Newsletter June 2022 - First Presbyterian Ridgewood, NJ
While the word lazy has a negative connotation, I cannot help but look forward to the lazy days of summer. For many of us, so much of life happens at full speed – one activity, project, event or task after the other! And the lazy days of summer provide us with a wonderful opportunity to slow down, relax, play and experience refreshment and rejuvenation.
Reading a book on the beach. Taking a walk in the park. Rising early while the air is still crisp and cool and reading one’s daily devotion on the patio with the first cup of coffee. Throwing a frisbee with a young child. Planting a flower garden. Eating a Van Dyk’s ice cream cone. Turning off the phone and spending the day enjoying a picnic with friends. Taking trips to see family members, some of whom we haven’t seen since before the pandemic. Attending an outdoor worship service in a beautiful courtyard. Sitting on the deck in the evening and marveling at the splashes of orange and yellow painted across the canvass of a dark June sky. Lying on a hammock and counting stars. Slowing down and appreciating the gift of friendship, the wonders of creation and time with the Creator.
What I’m describing here is essentially Sabbath time – which God has given to us as a gift to be experienced every seven days. In the words of Margaret Feinberg in Wonderstruck: “Through the Sabbath, God asks us to slow down so we once again become awestruck by the goodness of God in our lives, relationships and world. The Sabbath provides the opportunity to nurture our appreciation for the beauty of creation, the deliciousness of provision, the joy of celebration. In a single day, God gives us the opportunity to recapture the wonder of everyday life.” [pp. 70-71]
In short, if we’ve been a little lax about Sabbath observance, I’m encouraging each of us to use the lazy days of summer as an opportunity to jump start our Sabbath practice. Doing so is essential to experiencing the abundant life Jesus came to offer.
The following poem, inspired by Psalm 23, is attributed to Japanese poet Toki Miyanshina. In it, the poet reminds us that there is much to be gained by slowing down.
The Lord is my Pace-setter, I shall not rush;
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals.
He provides me with images of stillness,
which restore my serenity.
He leads me in ways of efficiency
through calmness of mind,
and His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things
to accomplish each day,
I will not fret, for His presence is here;
His timelessness, His all importance,
will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal
in the midst of my activity
by anointing my mind with His oils of tranquility.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness
shall be the fruits of my hours;
for I shall walk, in the pace of my Lord
and dwell in His house forever.
Friends, this summer, may we slow down, walk in the pace of the Lord and thereby experience the good life God wants to give us.
Yours in Christ, Bruce