God’s Love, Shining Through Us Takes No Vacation

“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.” Exodus 20:11

“Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.” Deuteronomy 5:15

Sum-sum-summertime! Summer is here and it’s hot and it’s time to “get out of Dodge” for a while. A weekend! A week! A month! Time for a well-deserved break. Some of us are in fact spending a whole month or more out of the Phoenix area, some are going away for a weekend here and there. I myself will be on vacation for the last two Sundays of July to visit my parents for some family time as well as time with some old friends. I hope you will be taking rest time this summer, too—whether in or out of town. These times away from our work refresh us with recreation and re-creation, space to step back and breathe. Just breathe.

It is summer and we have all been through a lot in the last 15 months of pandemic. We’re tired. We need a break. We are leaving town and traveling now that many of the necessary restrictions of the last year are now no longer necessary. I get it. Taking care of ourselves is right and necessary simply for the joy of living as well as the need to have both the strength and desire to serve others. I cannot give a cup of cold water to a thirsty person if my well is dry. I get it.
At the same time, I also know that the needs in our community do not stop when I am tired. People continue to need basic food that they cannot afford. Worship continues to happen in our sanctuary every Sunday and it requires many hands to provide it and to welcome people in. Ministry, both on and off our campus, continues even in summer, even when we need a break. Take for example our Kyrene Resource Center. Look down below in this newsletter for the list of needed school supplies. What on that list can you provide?

In that article below, you’ll see we have a Celebration and an “Oops!” We celebrate that during the month of May, Esperanza gave Kyrene Resource Center a happy and healthy 38 pounds of food! Hooray! We celebrate and thank God for the generosity God has placed in our hearts, using our money to buy food and our hands to deliver it. We also have an Oops! You’ll see that in June we gave only 2 pounds of food.

Oftentimes I hear good Christian folks say, when asked about all the good work they do in the world, “Well, God doesn’t take a day off, neither should we!” When I hear that I remember the instances of the Ten Commandments in the Bible, one in Exodus and one in Deuteronomy. Even God did stop to rest after creating “all things, seen and unseen.” God did command God’s people to observe sabbath rest, remembering that they had been slaves in Egypt, unable to rest even one day from their labor. But they were slaves no longer; they were free. Even Jesus stepped away from the crowds of people begging to be healed, to the point that even his own disciples didn’t know where he was. God both commands and gives the example that we are to rest.

But that is the beauty of the fact that God created us for community—loving community. God created us out of loving community: God in Three Persons is, within God’s own self, a community of Love. Divine love that gives of self and is filled in a never-ending cycle of gracious Love. We were created in that image: the “imago dei,” the image of God. And if God is Love, perhaps that makes us God’s Love here in this world. God’s image here.

And when we are tired and need a break to rest and refresh, and know the grace of God and God’s gift of sabbath rest, we can receive that gift and rest without guilt or shame. Because we know that it doesn’t all depend on us — our siblings in Christ are there to continue serving and loving and giving when we cannot. Our siblings in Christ will continue loving and serving until we can return with the joy and eagerness of loving, serving, giving once again. The Body of Christ is alive and well.

This applies to those extreme times when we are truly worn-out: as one pastor I knew described it, “wrung out as a dish rag to our own strength.” At those times we must step away for self-care, guilt-free. And for those times when we’re simply getting away for some refreshment, God in Christ still lives in and through us wherever we travel, to whomever we meet. God’s Love will be known through our actions of mercy, understanding, forgiveness, kindness . . . how do you show God’s Love to friends? to strangers? to family? In what ways do you show forth God’s grace? God’s love?

My prayer for you, for all of us, is that God refresh us with the in-breathing of the Holy Spirit for the simple joy of living. And that God’s joy radiate from each of us, being for others a breath of fresh air, a sign of hope, a person of peace.

God’s peace and grace to you this day.

Pastor Annemarie