Summer is usually when parish life takes time to rejuvenate. Attendance on Sundays falls off; the number of meetings dwindles and planned giving usually declines during the months of July and August. This is understandable as many people take much needed time away; vacations, visiting relatives, or just staying away from worship for a change. While our spiritual needs do not take a vacation I think that other than making sure that the financial responsibilities of the church are met (they do not take a vacation) there is no reason to be overly concerned about people’s absence at this time of year. What I would like to offer here is the opportunity to make sure that even though one may not be in church every week the demands of our spiritual lives are not put aside.
I am sure that there are many of you who undertake activities that refresh the soul each summer. We Trottiers retreat to what I consider to be a very a holy place for a glorious few weeks. Our secluded cabin by the lake is so removed from the demands of ministry that as the days of my time off begin to wane I feel anxious “to get back at it.”
Our time there is imbued with an unmistakable sense reverence and wonder which I hope you also experience during your time away. We do not neglect the daily and weekly piety that has become a part of our life. In fact our spiritual practices increase in many respects: contemplative, prayerful, and disciplined times where matters of the soul are honored in ways that I do not always have time for in normal parish ministry. I come back refreshed and enthusiastic, but I am deliberate about it.
Have you had trouble being deliberate in such ways; trouble carrying your spiritual disciplines with you in your vacation luggage? I would like to offer you some very simple yet helpful hints at changing that:
Join your spouse or partner in prayer time each day. If blessed with children find ways that they can participate (greater time with blessings at meals is a good start).
Talk to me before you begin your time away and I can connect you with some interesting reading possibilities.
When on vacation make it a point to search out a church near your location – it can be a lot of fun to see how other people worship. If you do, make sure and bring back the bulletin so that we can borrow good ideas!
Statistics tell us that women read the Bible more than men. Perhaps we men can improve on that by regular scripture reading as a summer discipline! “Forward Day by Day” booklets are a real help as an introduction to daily reading and meditating on scriptures. They can be found in the narthex and are available to women too!
Take the time to experience the glory of God as made manifest in creation. We live in one of the most beautiful settings I can think of and opening our eyes and rejoicing at God’s creative wonders is a blessing indeed – regardless of the locale.
Remember that St. Barnabas still needs your financial support; you can change to direct deposit contributions if you have not done so already. Or you can leave our envelope secretary your post dated checks!
Whatever disciplines you may choose, or if you choose all of them, I pray that if you are blessed with vacation time it will be a time of refreshment and growth, rediscovering God’s presence as the gift it is meant to be. And that if you are able to find precious time to get away that it will be a source of rejuvenation to you and your loved ones.