Signs Along the Way… Summer Vacation
Rest, relaxation, and time to spend doing nothing or on things we truly love. In the midst of your leisure time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure, where is God? In the planning and packing for the big trip is there room for Jesus? As you prepare to celebrate freedom from occupation, to be empty, at rest or at leisure, will you turn to the Lord or is He on hold with all the other responsibilities of daily life?
Vacations are a great gift of rest and recharging, a time away like an extended Sunday afternoon when we have a say in how active or inactive we will be in activities that we love. Rest is a verb defined as depend, to base, be based, be contingent, be dependent, be founded, be supported, be upheld, or be grounded in. A definition that when reflected upon seems to draw me closer to God, rather than to a break, or time away from our Creator.
Many find summer vacation time brings them closer to God, to family and friends, and allows for exploration and reflection on the beauty of the world. We recently spend some vacation time in Southeastern Pennsylvania and filled our restful time away visiting local wineries and the beautiful Longwood Gardens, a 1,000 acre reminder of a good and gracious God’s creation. We did include attending worship in our planning and found it to be the most memorable part of our time away.
The church we decided to worship at was an hour away from our hotel, but we knew the recently ordained Pastor and wanted to connect with him, his wife and their new church community. The worship was a bit more informal than most and it was great to worship with fellow Christians in a different style and place. What was most memorable was that at communion there was no orderly, quiet, reflective or ushered proceeding to the table. Rather the whole congregation stood at once, headed to the aisle with exuberance and sang the distribution hymns as they went forward.
The joy and sense of community shared around the meal on that Sunday was remarkable. My vacation and period of rest was made complete not only by the new experience, or in receiving the gifts of bread and wine, but by sharing it in such a different way and being joyfully reminded of where true rest and salvation comes from. My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
These first two verses from Psalm 62 for me define vacation. Well maybe not a day at the beach, time with friends, amusement park rides, picnics or other usual summer vacation or rest activities… but as a reminder that true rest and recharging on a weekend away or major vacation trip begins with God. This simple Psalm will serve as my vacation prayer for the summer and only needs the word Amen at the end to affirm that it is so, that I believe and know where true rest and vacation joy come from.