From The Rector…
There Last week Steve and I went to the beach. We are fortunate that his family has a home there. The house sits on St. John’s Bay across from Ono Island in Orange Beach. The property was acquired by his grandfather in the first half of the 1900s. The original house is gone—though it survived Hurricane Frederick, Ivan took no pity on it and flipped the roof off. The new house is cozy with wide open rooms and tall ceilings, a big open porch as well as a screened in, covered one. The view is glorious.
Every morning, when the soft lavender tones of the pre-dawn sky begin to turn to fiery orange and the waters are awakened by the tide, you can see and hear the world start to come alive. The sun begins to glint off the waves like diamonds dancing over a sparkling ballroom floor. The birds start their morning song, sea gulls and herons greet one another with loud cries. The osprey circle the bay looking for breakfast—which they often clean in the pine tree that grows in the white sands of a small strip of beach in front of the house. The only thing better might be sunset when the fading glow of light slowly ebbs away at the end of the day.
I could (and often do) sit on the open porch for hours if not the whole day soaking in creation. This past week was no exception. I even read two whole books in two days on that porch, blissfully ignorant of the distractions that plague my world on a daily basis. I didn’t answer my phone or check text messages or take pictures of Petunia and Archibald, the puppies, or look at Facebook, or wear my smart watch. I just sat in the warmth of the day and read and played with the dogs and talked with Steve. It was a time to refresh, revive, and be renewed.
The old joke goes that on Easter, Jesus may have risen but the clergy are dead. Though energized by an incredible weekend of worship, I was feeling a bit of that exhaustion. Our beach trip had been planned for some months and I have never been more grateful for an opportunity to rest. In the Gospel stories, time and again Jesus goes to the mountain to rest and to pray. He usually traipses their alone after some taxing experience like feeding five thousand or healing a whole bunch of people in Peter’s mother-in-law’s house. He has a habit of not telling anyone when he is going much less where he is going. He seems to trust in and know that his intentional downtime, serves more than him—it serves the needs of the whole though they don’t know or understand that.
Whenever Jesus goes away, he always comes back with a renewed sense of purpose and a clarity of mission. In his daily work and ministry, he is easily distracted by the need that lies all around him—healing the sick, casting out demons, feeding the hungry, teaching and answering the multitude of questions heaped upon him. He obviously needed a break! And he uses that break to be renewed. I felt a little bit like that last week—using a break I desperately needed to be renewed.
I hear a lot about the importance of Sabbath in the religious context. There is even a movement that highlights the importance of personal Sabbath. Church on Sundays is a weekly Sabbath for me—and I hope for many of you. Sabbath is not about just doing whatever you want—it is a day of intentional rest and reflection in order to be renewed. That is what church strives to be. And every so often, when you’ve done a great work and expended a lot of time and energy into something that doesn’t often happen but that you feel incredibly passionate about, taking a Sabbath—a time away from the world be it at the beach or on a mountain top—can offer you perspective and vitality in creative and energizing ways. In other words, its good for us to get away and be intentional in our rest.
Sabbath is not vacation. It is the work we do to refresh the soul and nourish our spirit in order to go back to our daily life and do the work God has called each of us too whether that is writing briefs, teaching in a classroom, bringing up children, caring for the sick, counting money, whatever it is that you do on a daily basis—Sabbath helps you do that work better and it benefits not only you but all those around you because you will return refreshed, renewed, and with clarity of purpose.
Light and Life,