An old song declares “roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer...” We may not be living in the easy-going times of 1950’s (affluent white suburban) America, but I always enjoy when summer brings a more relaxed, carefree holiday atmosphere. I apologise to those for whom summer does not mean holiday time; being keyed in to the school and church year brings such thoughts to me at predefined times - even if “summer” weather doesn’t arrive, though it does seem to have done so this week! A number of words often connected with holidays are, in origin Christian words.
You will find the Bible never mentions relaxing, but the notion of Rest is prominent. It is mentioned an astonishing 414 times and the idea of Sabbath, a days rest per week and leaving the ground fallow one year in seven puts the concept into the rhythm of life. The Psalmist sums it up, “find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” (Psalm 62:5) Rest is good for you!
We expect to feel Renewed after a holiday and that is a biblical term. God pledges to renew His Promise, His Covenant, His People and Christian living is characterized by being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Describing God’s grace, Paul says “when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5)
Recreation is an obsession of our time, and again the word isn’t in the Bible. But the underlying concepts of being a New Creation and Created New are; repeatedly the link is made between the finished work of Jesus on the cross and the Holy Spirit’s current and ongoing work of making good that work in our lives and changing us into the likeness of Jesus. (eg 2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
Some twenty-two times the Bible tells of God’s people being Refreshed; Psalm 23 is perhaps the best-known example. Jesus offers “living water” - His Holy Spirit - to flow from within us to bring eternal life and refresh us for His service (John 4:13-14, John 7:37-38) because the Lord does not want His people to burn themselves out. The disciples were told to wait for “power from on high” (Luke 24:49) to fulfil the great commission and the apostles urged people to turn to God, “that times of refreshing may come from the Lord ... until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised” (Acts 3:19-21) This is surely the key; it is in returning to Christ that the things we often seek from our holidays are found finally and fully in God alone, through His Holy Spirit.
We can hope that my colleague David Gray will have experienced all these during his “sabbatical” - a word not found in the Scriptures, but a practice clearly founded in the Biblical notion of Sabbath and Jubilee – holy rest to achieve all the benefits I’ve mentioned (Genesis 2:2-3, Leviticus 25: 2-7, Mark 2:27). The question I want to ask you is this: in what ways do we adequately step back and objectively assess our lives and those of our churches, ready for what Lord wants to do in and through us? “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)
May the remainder of summer bring you great rest, refreshment, renewal, and re-creation!
God Bless, David Miller