As these summer months get under way, there will be a number of people still looking forward to their holidays. Those not tied to school holidays may well already be looking backwards.
Whichever way you may be looking, you might like to join me in pondering about holidays. Literally “holy days”: my dictionary defines a holiday as “a period in which a break is taken from work or studies for rest, travel, or recreation”. Rest, travel and recreation – don’t they sound a good combination?
Travel may or not figure in our holidays, but I guess that, for most of us, “rest” on a holiday means not doing what we would normally be doing. Not only that but it also means the gaps in between doing recreational things – which might be doing all sorts of things that we wouldn’t normally dream of doing like abseiling, paragliding or bungee-jumping – but it probably means gentler things like sightseeing, browsing round deliciously unfamiliar places or simply soaking up the sun (or sigh dodging the raindrops).
Those are what are normally thought of as “recreation”, things done at special times – out of working hours, at evenings and weekends or on holiday.But rest and recreation are not just for special times, they are for all times.
Jesus talked about rest, a very particular kind of rest: “Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”The Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 11.28-29
What a wonderful image that phrase “rest for your souls” conjures up – tranquillity, calmness, peace. And what a wonderful promise – that if we enlist in Christ’s service, willingly submitting to his yoke, his way, we will know his peace, we will know our soul’s ease.
And if you spell “recreation” slightly differently, “re-creation”, a whole new meaning unfolds. Re-creation, being created anew, is at the heart of the Gospel message. There has to be repentance, for sure, before anything can happen; a turning back, a recognition that we are not doing things the way God would have us do them, not putting others and their interests before ourselves and our own interests.
But if that does happen, if we do repent, if we do begin to realise that there is another way of being, a new way of living in the way that Jesus showed us, then we have the chance of being a whole new creation. As St Paul told the Corinthians “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5.17)
So if you have already had your holiday, I hope you had a splendid time. If you still plan to go but haven’t yet, I hope you will have a splendid time. If you have decided that a holiday is not on, I hope you enjoy staying just where you are.
Whatever your situation in the holiday stakes, I do hope that you will take a long look at the other possibilities of rest and re-creation – and that you will relish being rested, refreshed and renewed.