In our culture, people look to summer as a time for rest, recreation, and renewal. School is out and many school year activities are completed. Families often take vacation during the summer months because children are free. I do think that in generations past, summer actually did seem to be less busy. At least that is my impression.
But, in our current times of instant information, and a desire for instant gratification, it just seems that, while the summer months have less regular daily events scheduled, there are more of those special events — big activities that need a lot of planning. Any families that are involved in sports knows that schedules ramp up during summer. I also have a sports event to plan this summer as well. I am the coordinator for the annual Palmer Kiwanis Golf Tournament on August 9.
At St. John, during June, we will host the Colony Days picnic this Saturday, and march in the Colony Days parade. Then we will offer Vacation Bible School June 17-21. Both of these events are outreach-minded ministry that require a lot of volunteers and a lot of coordination. Just because summer has arrived does not mean that life becomes less hectic.
In July, St. John has 18 people attending the National Youth Gathering. In addition to the youth and adult chaperones participating in the actual gathering, they will also volunteer for a servant event on a native American reservation. Also, St. John members Jenny Carlson, Jonathan and Kathy Rockey, and Jamie Walters will all be working as volunteer leaders for the Gathering. Do you know what it takes to coordinate between 20,000-30,000 youth and adults for 5 days?
Oh, and in addition to that large event at the beginning of July, 8 St. John members will also be heading to the native village of Eek, to conduct Vacation Bible School, July 24-28. Last year a total of 70 children attended VBS at one time or another. This labor of love includes the work of planning lessons, transporting craft and snack supplies, transporting food, and the daily efforts to gain the attention of the children with the love of Jesus.
August also has a number of large events planned. The Board of Directors for the Northwest District of the Lutheran Church (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington) will be visiting the state July 31-August 4. I’ll be helping to lead a tour of many of the congregations of our denomination in the state, and St. John will host the Board of Directors for a meal on Saturday, August 3. And then, there is the retirement worship service and celebration planned for Sunday afternoon, August 25. I’m not supposed to have anything to do with this other than to attend. However, I hear lots of conversation about plans and meetings.
Even in times when life is supposed to slow down, we still have much that keeps us busy, perhaps overly busy! All the events listed above are worthwhile activities that contribute to the work of the Lord and the welfare of our families and community. So, we all grow weary and tired. We all need rest. It is good to consider God’s wisdom about the rest we need and desire.
First, please remember God has given the Sabbath as a day of rest. We read in Exodus 20.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11) When people of Jesus’ time used the Sabbath more as a law than as a gift of God, Jesus re-instructed the religious leaders of His time. 27 “Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’” (Mark 2:27-28) The Sabbath, the regular day of worship, in intended by God to bless people with a weekly opportunity for rest and renewal.
But there is another story from the life and ministry of Jesus which teaches lessons we need as summer approaches. Please listen to these words from Mark 6. “30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:30-32)
First, it is good to go away, away from the demands of daily life and work. Jesus took His disciples to “a quiet place,” away from the press of all the people crowding around Him, so that they could get some rest.
However, rest is not just found in “getting away.” Jesus tells His disciples, “Come with ME by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Real rest is found in time with Jesus. We don’t have to earn His love. We receive rest from the struggles of life through the grace and forgiveness of God. God gives rest in Jesus’ life and death and resurrection, in Jesus Himself. So Jesus says, “Come with ME . . . and get some rest.”
This summer as you seek rest from the weariness of work and life, don’t leave Jesus behind. If you travel to another location, perhaps you can worship there. If you go camping, perhaps you can have family devotions. When life is busy it is not time to stay away from worship, but to spend time with God and His people so the He can give us rest in His love and forgiveness.
May God give you rest in Jesus, this summer, and throughout the year.