Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.(2 Cor. 13:11)
After the work of creation, God rested. In the Law of Moses, both people and animals are granted a day of rest (a sabbath day, from the Hebrew meaning “to cease”). Despite the urgency of his mission, Jesus often models healthy self-care by worshiping on the sabbath, spending time in fellowship with those he loves, and taking time away from his responsibilities for prayer and rest in the mountains alone. He does all this while never losing sight of his purpose. Yes, God’s plan for us includes rest, relaxation, and restoration – alone as well as together in relationship with others – for our call although sometimes difficult is always meant to lead to new life.
In our society, we can too often lost sight of this. As a result, we can confuse our work with who we are. We can become addicted to our work or wrongly believe everything is up to us. We hesitate to take time to rejuvenate and keep ourselves and our relationships healthy, including our relationship with Christ and his church. We can become perfectionist or selfish, reaping rewards of status or wealth while ignoring the needs of others. If we do go on a vacation, we can come back more tired than when we left, or the opportunity can be mistakenly seen as all about us and our needs. In short, we can become less than the children of God we were created and called to be.
All of us are asked to share in Christ’s sacred work of restoration. In our shared ministry, through our daily vocations, and even as we seek to relax or fellowship, we remain the children of God. We are to practice and demonstrate a healthy self love and care, but that time should also help prepare us for the gospel work before us. There is a time to work and a time to rest, but each time of our life should seek to glorify God. Our choices should aim to build up ourselves and others; intending to better love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Summer is a holy opportunity for rest and fun to be sure. It is a great time to celebrate the gift of our life and our relationships. I pray this summer helps restore us all, so that we might better attend to our call to help Jesus restore the world around us. Yes, Jesus still calls us, even in summer, for there is much work left to do and many blessings for us to share.
The above pastoral letter was originally published in Messiah Lutheran Church and School’s newsletter, The Messenger (June 2011 edition). To view the entire issue of The Messenger or to see the full calendar of events, visit: http://www.mlcas.org
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations for this article are from the Today’s New International Version translation.
© 2011 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.