Summertime religion

Published 9:11 am Friday, June 1, 2012

Across the Pastor’s Desk

By the Rev. Tim Reker, St. Theodore Catholic Church and St. James Catholic Church in Twin Lakes

Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, Pentecost has been celebrated and most academic years have ended, it is “officially” summer. (Of course, this year June 20 marks the beginning of astronomical summer.) How does your practice of your religious faith change in the summertime?

I checked my Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary to review the definition for vacation and learned that its meanings include: “a respite or a time of respite from something: intermission, a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended … a period spent away from home or business for rest and relaxation.”

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Certainly we need a break or a “respite” from work, school and the like. A vacation, even if it is a so-called “stay-cation,” can help to renew and refresh us and enable us to return to our regular responsibilities with new vigor.

Unfortunately, our culture supports the practice of giving and taking one’s full vacation less and less; perhaps you’ve noticed the recent articles and surveys on the topic. Demands at work and technology keep us on a short tether, and we don’t always feel like we’ve gotten away … even if we’ve been on vacation.

When it comes to our weekly vacation called a Sabbath or the Lord’s Day, some of us too easily dispense ourselves from the obligation of keeping the Sabbath holy. Do we really need a respite from a respite?

Whether one uses the version of the Ten Commandments from Exodus (20:2-17) or Deuteronomy (5:6-21), I can find no reference to a summer vacation from the Commandment to “Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day” (nor for any of the other Commandments … in case you’re wondering).

Keeping the Sabbath may be more of a challenge because the cultural supports for this value are no longer present as they once were. If anything, we need a weekly Sabbath now more than ever. Perhaps the beginning of summer is a good time to renew our commitment to this religious practice.

For many of us, especially those affected by the school calendar, summer is a time when we have more leisure time. Depending upon our hobbies and interests, there is usually more time to spend in the garden, on one’s deck, in the park, on the links and, of course, in Albert Lea, on the lake.

As we plan our summer activities, is God included in the planning? The blessing of modern technology mentioned above is that we can readily find information about restaurants, hotels, museums, water and amusement parks.

I was recently in another city and made a dinner reservation with an app on my phone. Reservations are not needed at churches, but locations and times of services can easily be found. Worshipping with a different congregation can provide a new perspective, perhaps making you more grateful for your faith community or giving you ideas to strengthen your church.

Nope, there is no vacation from the “vacation” called the Sabbath. A few beautiful summer days is all that native Minnesotans need to keep us here year round. During these lazy, sometimes hazy, days of summer, our God is close at hand and eager to bring us even greater joy and deeper happiness. Spend time this summer with God daily in prayer and weekly in worship; you’ll be glad that you did!