Summary: Communion Meditation for July 9, 2006
(1) The word ‘vacation’ according to the Webster’s Second New Riverside Dictionary means ‘a period of time for pleasure, rest, or relaxation.’ Europeans call ‘taking a vacation’ ‘taking a holiday’ or ‘going on holiday’ and for some the month of August is a month of taking their holiday. In fact, in Europe, many countries legally mandate up to a month of vacation time even for new employees!
In a report that was dated June 28, 2003, ABC news correspondent Catherine Valenti reported that America has less vacation time than other industrialized nations do and that Americans usually do not take all of their vacation time. The report goes on to state that “U.S. workers aren’t guaranteed any vacation time by law and take an average of 10.2 vacation days a year after three years on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In contrast, workers in the United Kingdom are guaranteed 20 paid vacation days by law and take an average of 25 days off a year. Even in notoriously hard-working Japan, workers have a legal right to 10 days off and take an average of almost 18 vacation days a year.”
Now what I found really interesting are the comments to the article that appear at the website, freerepublic.com from which I downloaded the article. Many of them thought one of the sources quoted in the article, Joe Robinson, who started a ‘Work to Live’ campaign that would seek federally mandated time off, was a whiner and suggested he get a job like teaching or the military if he wanted more days off.
I am not sure government legislation is necessary but I do believe this, God gave us the Sabbath for the purpose of ‘rest and worship’ and we need to take vacation because I believe that it is one of the ways a ‘Sabbath experience’ helps us recreate and re-create.
So, as your pastor, I am telling you, ‘if you have some vacation time,’ take it and even if you camp at Bixler Lake, do so! All of us need time away from work and other responsibilities.
Now, since June 11th, I have been gone 2 days for a SHAPE retreat, 4 days as a camp counselor, 3 days for our national meetings, 3 days for some vacation, and one holiday. That is 13 days.
Now it has not been a total vacation for me and yet I had some re-creation time during those days. (2) Counseling allowed me to have a change of pace and to spend time with Daniel and other 2nd and 3rd graders in a very good environment.
Our national meetings allowed me to spend sometime in learning some new things as well as time for prayer, reflection, and worship. Vacation allowed me to re-connect with family as well as letting go of work responsibilities for a time.
And then there was the retreat. It was very helpful and allowed me to really spend sometime in prayer discerning God’s future plans and purposes for my life.
And at the retreat we did a meditation exercise that we are going to do in a few moments that I now do on a regular basis. (Don’t panic! I am not going to ask you to something strange or weird although it might feel different at first.)
It is an exercise designed to help us slow down and begin to make ourselves more able and available to the Lord for the purpose of hearing Him. I believe, very much so, that God wants us to hear His voice but we need to quiet down and listen for Him as well as to Him.
This brings me to our text for this morning because what I experienced at various points during those 13 days I have just spoken of is the discipline or practice of silence. And there is the presence of silence in our main text.
(3)But it is a maddening silence. It is a silence that drives Jesus to His knees as He faces certain arrest and death. Luke writes, “He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”
Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.”
There is silence in Jesus’ experience. And it is a disturbing silence. This past week I had a conversation with someone that left me asking, ‘Where are you God?’ But as soon as the question left my conscious thought, the reply came, ‘Duh, He is right here!’
(4) Because God is God, He is everywhere. The challenge is to be still and wait for Him to move and act and then follow Him as He directs.