July sees the end of the School year and the start of the long summer holidays. Each year I see so much excitement at the anticipation of the lesson-free weeks to come. This is an important time of year because rest is important to us. Rest isn't a waste of time. Time taken to rest allows us to recharge our batteries. Rest gives us time to reflect and to think the bigger thoughts that are normally squeezed out by our busyness.
Within the Christian understanding of life rest is the necessary balance to activity. The central importance of rest goes all the way back to the ancient creation stories right at the start of the Bible. I see these stories as a figurative description of the creative activity of God. They tell me about the character of God as creator and sustainer of all things. In those creation stories God's creative work is balanced by rest. After each stage of creation God pauses to take pleasure in his handiwork and rests for the night. Then after 6 days God rests to take pleasure in it all.
So the Christian understanding is that rest is built into the natural rhythm of life. It is the way we are made. We are made to work and after work we are made to need rest. Jews and Christians have always expressed this basic human need for rest in the setting aside of a fixed day of rest: Saturday for the Jews and Sunday for the Christians. We now live in a society that no longer has a fixed day of rest. Now for many workers Sunday is just another working day. This in itself does not bother me, I along with all ministers, have always worked on Sunday. What worries me is that the Biblical importance of rest will be lost with the loss of the specialness of Sunday.
With working Sundays I make sure that I take a rest day later in the week. I also take my allotted holidays even though there always seems to be far more work than I have time to do. I take my need for rest seriously. I have found that rest allows me to think more clearly, to consider more deeply and to be far more effective and efficient when I do resume work. Rest and holidays are not an indulgence they are central to being human. So I hope that all of you enjoy your days off and longer holidays away.
God bless you,