Monday, 22 August 2016

Summer shut down?

The summer shutdown, schools do it (6 weeks, 7 if you live in Doncaster this year), colleges do it, universities do it.  Even the Martial arts club my boys go to does it.  They basically shut down, run nothing for a period of time because so many people are away and teachers need rest.  Church doesn't do it but there are weeks when I wonder if it may not be a bad idea, but then I stop and think about it and realise it would be horrific.

Don't mishear me, I'm not knocking holidays, I've enjoyed a lovely two week break.  Part in hectic, let's go, let's see, let's climb into bed exhausted and hot at the end of everyday having crammed as much as possible in, London and part in relaxed, cool, tranquil North Yorkshire.  But I do wonder about the spiritual effect of holidays, especially extended holidays.  It used to be that most people went away for a couple of weeks, but there seems to be a growing trend to be away for as much of the school summer holidays as possible, sometimes in long unbroken stretches.

I'm not sure why that is but I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that as families we cram our lives so full of stuff that everything else gets shunted into holiday time.  If we are busy all the time in term time; children at different clubs every night and at weekends, busy with work, busy with life, busy with church.  Then we try to squeeze in visits to family and friends at holidays.  But actually all we are doing is filling up our holidays and making them as busy as the rest of the time.  When do we stop and rest?  When do we stop and take the time to evaluate, to meditate on God's word and slowly chew over what it has to say about our pace of life, priorities, loves, goals and so on?

One by product of the cramming of term time is the cramming of rest time full of people to see, things to do to make up for our inability to do so in overfull term time.  I wonder what damage it is doing to our families, our churches, our communities and the gospel?  I wonder if the concept of leisure and holidays is gradually choking our churches?  If it is becoming the Christians other object of worship, a rival to God?  I'm certainly aware of the danger in my own heart and mind of overworking now and pinning my hopes on rest then.

When our churches seem to shut down or hibernate for the summer there is something wrong.  It's fine for a Martial arts club to do it, or for a school to do so.  But a church is a family, I'm taking it that we don't absent ourselves from our families for weeks at a time.  My fear is that as this becomes the norm we will find ourselves in years to come reaping the costs.

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