A Quick Word On Why Summer Vacations Are Good:
Summer is one of those odd times in the church calendar. With school out, it's a time to reconnect with family. It's a season to travel to far off destinations and shrug off regular schedules and responsibilities. Living in Maine, many need a chance to escape the parade of tourists that will pour into our area.
And yet, we are God's People in this place 365 days a year. We have many friends who winter elsewhere, and the summer months are our short window to reconnect with them. As the humidity and heat sets in, we have an opportunity to celebrate God and share our life together as church that we just can't do when the days are short and cold.
So what do we do? When we take time for ourselves, we tend to feel guilty. Did you know that in 2016, Americans, on average took 16 Vacation Days throughout the year? This is down from 20 days a year in 1978. Some of that has to do with jobs that don't offer much vacation time, but recent studies have shown that most of us who are given vacation time as a benefit are failing to take it. In 2016, the value of our collective unused vacation time was $66.4 Billion. Collectively, we don't feel comfortable taking time off...even if it is our time to use as we wish.
What's the biggest thing we've been saying every week at church this year? Our deepest call is to Love our Neighbor as ourselves. How we take care of ourselves is often how we will take care of others. If we are denying ourselves time off--especially when it is well-earned and already paid for--what does that say about how we will treat our neighbors?
Church should be a place that helps bring us to life...not a commitment that prevents us from living our lives to the fullest. If we don't take advantage of the time we have, we may come back after Labor Day feeling too overworked and exhausted to begin anything NEW in the new year.
I don't know if this helps...but for what it's worth: This last Sunday we celebrated the Day of Pentecost, the birth of the church. According to our Church Calendar, that means we are now in "The Season After Pentecost," otherwise known as "Ordinary Time." We spent all winter and spring dedicating ourselves to the story of God, the story of Jesus, the story of the Church...and now, in Ordinary Time...we have to dedicate ourselves to finding God's story in our own ordinary lives. It's our call as Followers of the Way of Life to demonstrate Love of Neighbor, Love of ourselves, and Love of the One who made us any way we can, every ordinary day of our lives. If that is the focus of these summer months, then whether we are staying home, going to work, trying new things, or exploring the world...we are doing exactly what God is calling us to do...no matter where we are in the world...or on life's journey.
We'll still be here all summer long, having dinner together, finding new ways to teach and learn the word, and we have some excellent opportunities to serve our community coming up as well. Keep an eye on the calendar, come when you need...and sleep in when you can.