News for July 2017

Dear Friends,

Holiday season is upon us once more! Postcards are beginning to drift in to the vicarage from family and friends enjoying time away. Exams are over! Our schools are busy with all the end of term activities and events. Those from our church in the Open the Book teams can look forward to a well-deserved break from the routine of weekly assemblies in Manor Green, Wessex and Larchfield. I hope that all of you will be able to have a break (either at home or away) sometime during the summer months.

Time for rest and relaxation is an essential part of life.  In the Bible's first account of the creation of the world, six days of labour is balanced by one day of rest.  Or so I thought! However, I vividly remember taking an assembly many years ago where I had visual aids for each of the days of creation lined up at the side with the candle I used for the prayers. By the time I reached the seventh day all that remained on the table was the candle I had lit at the start of the assembly. I asked the children if any of them knew what God did on the seventh day. A hand shot up and a little boy shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Blew out the candle?’

In the gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry, we sometimes find him taking time out, withdrawing from the crowds, or his friends - surely recognising the need to make space for himself, to rest, and to pray.

Even for those unable to get away this summer, I hope there may be opportunities in the coming weeks to have some time for relaxation - time with family or friends; time in the garden or on days out, time pursuing a favourite activity, or whatever will help to refresh you. 

For those going away on holiday, do make the most of it.  Make the most of the break from the usual routine and stresses and use the opportunity to slow down a bit.  It seems so many people live life in the fast lane, and when they finally get a holiday they continue at the same pace.  Take time to rest and relax.

Enjoy the people around you - whether family or friends, or people you meet.  It seems so often when we are caught up in our usual routine, we don't have enough time to appreciate one another. 

Do take time to reflect.  Holidays are a good opportunity to look back - giving thanks to God for all the good things that have happened, but also to offer to God all that has been difficult or painful in past months and begin to move on.

Coming home from holiday is not always easy. If one has enjoyed a good holiday it can be tough getting back to normal routine again. In the early years of my curacy, I was always surprised that my colleague always seemed rather grumpy when he returned from holiday.  I now put it down to ‘post-holiday blues’! I have even come to recognise it in myself!

Yet coming back from holiday can be a time of new beginnings; an opportunity to reassess priorities and make much needed changes to our lives; a time of new resolutions. What might be the one thing you need to do or to change in your life when you get back from holiday?

As we take time and space for holidays or relaxation in other ways, may we know the presence of the God who calls us into being, who longs that we should know and love him, and who promises to be with us always (whether at home or away).

Enjoy the rest of the summer!