From Mark 6: The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.
I did some advance church planning this last week before heading down the shore for the holiday weekend. Robin is taking a couple weeks off, so we worked a little ahead. These Sundays lately, we’re getting into the part of Mark’s Gospel where Jesus’ ministry has grown to a point that both he and the disciples have been working very hard. So hard, they don’t have time to eat. So hard they need some time off to rest and recharge.
Who can’t relate to that?
Summertime! And the living is easy. Church attendance is always down from the “school year” because a number of people go away. During the regular year, I tell people that here in New Jersey, if you want to see the whole membership cycle through church, you gotta come every Sunday for at least a month. In the summer, it’s more like “you gotta come all summer” to see everybody. And during the pandemic, even that isn’t true anymore. Some people are really enjoying just rolling out of bed with coffee and a muffin, watching church on Facebook Live.
Nevertheless, most of us get out of town in the summer like a lot of us did over the July 4th weekend—relaxing—enjoying family—going down the shore, out of the country (if we are allowed to go there), dropping out of sight. The good news about living here in the shadow of NYC or Philly is that we even have a lot of choices when we “staycation” as things begin to open back up.
I’ll do some vacationing myself probably around the end of August or the first of September. I take two weeks every year to rest, recharge, go down the shore, read, binge-watch TV, sleep in, travel to see the kids, put more miles on the bike. I’ve got a lot of happy places.
Sometimes, I just sit. Sometimes I just sit, and I don’t even have to be watching the waves roll in to feel close to God—although the shore is a happy place for sure, especially at sunrise. Doesn’t everybody see God in the sunrise?
I hope you’re doing something like it. Whatever it takes. Get to your happy place.
Sometimes you can just sit, close your eyes, and be wherever you want to be. Feel the Spirit down to your bones. The Spirit knows…
God always knows where you are. Always, in all ways.
Like gravity, the Spirit never takes a day off. But we need to. All of us. Jesus, the disciples, you, and me too!