Monday, June 7, 2010

No Church Vacations!

Summer is here!
We can all feel the change in weather, and we anticipate the slowing of the pace of our lives.
Soon kids will be out of school.
Soon we will be on vacation.
We will take long weekends and weekend trips.
My prayer for all of you this summer is to have time of refreshment, time to relax, time to slow the hurried pace of your lives.
For we all need a Sabbath.
We all need a time to get away and rejuvenated our souls.
God after creating the world needed some time to rest.
Certainly Jesus after a long day of teaching the crowds needed time to get away by himself and refresh.
This is what summer gives us time off.
Even our Church shifts gears.
Today is our last day of Sunday school; things will wind down around the church as it too rejuvenates itself before the torrid pace of fall activities.
However, what cannot happen in the summer time is that we take a vacation from Church.
For Church is always with us.
No matter what we are doing.

Let me explain, the Church is not really a physical thing.
We call what we do on Sunday morning “going to Church”.
But what we are really doing on Sunday morning is going to worship.
Church is an everyday activity.
You see no matter where we are or what we are doing we are the Church.
Because no matter where we are or what we are doing we are disciples of Jesus Christ.
This summer when you are on vacation with your family we are the Church in whatever spot you find yourself.
You are the body of Jesus Christ out in the world.

This morning’s Gospel is about Jesus and his large crowd of disciples visiting a little town.
While there Jesus notices this widow.
He sees her grieving, and probably here need for help.
Without a husband or a son she would have been in great financial need.
Jesus has compassion on her.
Jesus raises her son causing the crowd to say, “God has looked favorably on his people!”
That is one of the great acts of Jesus Christ to have compassion for others.
It is in Luke’s Gospel that we hear a lot about compassion.
We hear it in relation to the Good Samaritan, for the father in the prodigal son.
Compassion is a major element in who Jesus is, and therefore in who God is.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, as the large crowd that also follows Jesus in all aspects of our lives we too are called to have compassion in our lives.
That is no matter where we are or what we are doing.

This summer while you are on vacation think about what it means to have compassion as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to have compassion on your family members who will be with you on vacation?
What does it mean to have compassion on the other people that are also on vacation around you?
What does it mean to have compassion for yourself?

For me every summer was about one thing, Camp Calumet.
There were summers in the 1980’s when my mom would be working on staff and we would get to spend the entire summer at camp.
There were other summers when we would get to spend two weeks camping.
We would leave on Sunday morning to get there in time for church.
And then it would be time to put up the tent or later we had a pop-up trailer.
And that would be the worse time of our vacation, because very year (at least in my memory) my parents would fight while setting up camp.
My Dad would get frustrated because some pole did not fit the way it should, or the pop-up did not pop-up the way it should.
My mom would try to offer a suggestion of how to do it better, and then well we were off to the races.
When I got old enough it became my job to help my Dad put up the pop-up while my mom waited at the beach, and then she would come up from the beach and put clothes away and set up the stove.
This seemed to solve the problem.
Because of this early childhood trauma now when I go camping with my wife and we have to put up the tent we agree in advance not to fight about it.
We both work hard at having compassion for one another and the struggle it is to set up camp.
That is where our Christianity is always worked out on the micro level.
It is lived out in our relationships with family and friends.
If we can’t be a Christian while camping on vacation with our family, then how can we be a Christian anywhere else in the world?

Our Christianity is with us always and everywhere we go.
It is not just confined to an hour on Sunday morning.
This is where we come for the renewal of our souls.
This is where we get the energy, the Holy Spirit to go out and live our faith in the actual world.
And out there in the world is where the important work of being the Church happens, not only in here on Sunday morning.

I was talking once with this church member.
I was telling her about a frustration I was having with a particular company.
I was having trouble talking to a human being, and then getting that human being to respond to what I considered a fairly easy request.
You know when you call a company and you get that long list of options and buttons to push.
“to reach billing press 1. To reach costumer service press 2. To reach technical assistance press 3. To pay your bill or ask about a previous bill press 4. To ask for assistance in completing and filing form number h-945576 press 5. To repeat this message press 6….and so on.”
And then you have to press like five more buttons before you get an actual human being.
Then you finally get this person, and they can’t answer your question or help you in any way because the computer screen in front of them doesn’t have that particular piece of information.
Anyone ever have this experience besides me?
Anyway, I was sharing my frustration with this woman.
She said to me, “I know exactly what you are talking about. I can’t stand that. That is when I lose my Christianity”.
I thought at the time, well we never lose our Christianity.
We are always Christians no matter the circumstances.
I realized that I needed to have more compassion for the people on the other end of the phone.
No matter who answered or what answer they gave me I still needed to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I still needed to follow the example he gave us about having compassion on everyone, all the time, no matter the circumstance.

Think about the compassion that God has on us.
It is often overwhelming.
God forgives all my sins.
God forgives me for the times when I am grumpy, impatient, judgmental, stubborn, and self serving, and that is just the stuff I know about.
Surely I can find my way to compassion for my wife who does not set up the tent the way I do.
I can find compassion for the older man driving slowly on his way to vacation.
I can find compassion for the person in the line at the gift shop who is having trouble finding his credit card.
I can find compassion for the women on the phone in India assisting me with my student loan payments.

We are disciples of Jesus Christ.
We are following him all the time to big cities like Jerusalem, or small towns like Nain.
And there what we see is that God has looked favorably upon his people, and what we attempt to do is find our way to compassion.
So that others will see Christ in us.

This summer may God be with you on your vacation in your relaxing moments, in your Sabbath moments.
And may all of you have compassion and continue to be the Church wherever you are.

No comments:

Post a Comment