August 24, 2020

Rest for the Journey

July and August are normally vacation time for many within the church. Attendance by parishioners decreases and there is a scramble to find supply priests while the clergy are away. We fret about tithes and many committees including vestries suspend their meetings and deliberations. We share our vacation plans, are thankful for the much needed rest, and hopeful that we will be reinvigorated for the work ahead. The good old days!!

With the public health issues of COVID-19 and systemic racism raging across our country, this summer’s vacation plans are different, and in many cases nonexistent. Practically, it may not be safe to travel or congregate with groups including family members. Others may be fearful given the continuous broadcast of civil unrest.

In addition, because many have been working from home, there is a concern that we have to demonstrate our productivity, so workdays are 10 – 12 hours, the weekends are treated as weekdays, there are constant Zoom calls whether necessary or not, and the concept of a sabbath has almost disappeared. Our public health issues have also caused greater anxiety including lack of sleep and dissension with family and friends. Many do not think we deserve a vacation during these crises.

How can we prioritize rest to be effective in our ministries? By getting back to basics, a foundational principle of our Bible teachings is that we need to have rest, a sabbath. We can remove the stigma of rest as weakness. We can encourage each other to take a recess from the busyness of church life. Those in leadership positions can model that behavior and we all can acknowledge the sacrifice, creativity, and productivity of our colleagues in this new normal.

What does vacation look like in our brave new world? In many ways the same as it has in the past. Declare our vacation time publicly, and refrain from non-personal emails, phone calls, Zoom meetings and other activities. Most important, we need to give ourselves permission and create the time and space to recharge, breathe and rest for the journey ahead.