Vicar’s August Letter

Dear friends,

It’s holiday time. Quite a few of us have already had a break this year, Sian and I had 10 days in Northumberland and the Scottish borders in June. Many with children at school will be taking a break during August. Others will perhaps take a later break in September, when children are back at school and prices go down a little.

Those who aren’t going away are perhaps planning a few days out or special activities. It’s great to go away. The idea of holidays developed during the early 1800s and various resorts developed with the building of pleasure piers. The tradition of a holiday by the seaside continues to be a peculiarly British thing. Holidays to other countries became popular with the advent of package holidays in the early 1960s.

Sociological studies of the benefits of taking time-out and discussion about work / life balance have been undertaken with increasing regularity since the 60s and 70s. It appears we are more productive when we take a break from work.

This seemed like a radical discovery when sociologists started talking about it, but enlightened industrialists had figured this out 100 years previously. More significantly God knew this and established ideas of Sabbath and festivals into the law guiding the lives of his chosen people back in the time of Moses over 3000 years ago. The word ‘holiday’ is derived from ‘holy day’ and goes back to such provisions. And yet, while holiday providers are coming up with more and more exciting ideas and wonderful destinations, many employers seem to be putting people under pressure to work longer and longer hours. We can often feel that if we work longer we will get more done and prove our loyalty and commitment to our jobs. This is generally not the case and we should be careful of this. Many can burn out through not taking time off each week and proper breaks during the year.

But God’s provisions weren’t simply about time off and work / life balance. They were about finding space for time with him in busy lives. Festivals often involved pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the Temple. Although our holidays are no longer holy days as such, perhaps we should look for opportunities to connect with God while we are out of the stress and business of the work environment. Enjoy the wonders of the world we live in and thank God for them. Perhaps spend some time thinking about the place God has in your life during holidays and during the rest of the year.

I hope you have (or have had) a wonderful holiday if you have the opportunity to get away this year. If not, I hope you have the chance to have a break and do something different for a time and enjoy some days out. If this doesn’t seem likely, then try to get out for a walk or a drive in or around the forest – we live in a stunningly beautiful area. I hope you appreciate the beauty of the area we live in and the world we live and I hope you thank God for it. I hope you find a place for God in your holiday.

Remember, God wants you to have a break, to be refreshed and renewed, and to come back ready to go again. Enjoy your break, enjoy God’s blessing and try to keep a balance in your life.

God Bless,

Mike

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