Encouragement From The Word

Rest on your long weekend

Where I live, this weekend heralds the unofficial start of summer:  the Victoria Day long weekend.  The major north-south highway that is just a few kilometres from here will be plugged with vehicular traffic making its way to and from the cottages that populate the many lakes of what Ontario calls “Cottage Country”. People will be breaking out the shorts and the sandals, irrespective of the weather.  But opening up the cottage can be a fair bit of work.  There’s cleaning and raking and so many other little tasks that need to be done in order for enjoyment to take place.

Many people, though, will stay home, preferring to mark the long weekend with yard improvements and maintenance.  This is the time when nurseries and home renovation stores do a booming business.

Here’s a question to ponder:  how often does a long weekend, for you, include rest?  The idea behind statutory holidays is to give workers time off from their paid labour, to be sure; but whether or not we include time off from our unpaid labour is our own responsibility.

As human beings, we were created not for constant work, but for a cycle of work and rest.  When God made the world, he made it in six days, and rested on the seventh.  This is not so much a scientific statement as it is a theological statement:  the God of the universe, who is all-powerful, so believes in the value of rest that he himself took a day off.

So why wouldn’t you?

We live in a culture that values busyness.  But the church, we are reminded, is called to be counter-cultural.

By all means, enjoy your cottage, enjoy your back yard, enjoy whatever this weekend holds for you…but take one day off from things that mustbe done.   I recommend that day be Sunday, so you can worship God in community and share fellowship with others.  See you in church!

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him” (Psalm 62.1, NIV).

Advertisements
Encouragement From The Word

The Long Weekend After Ascension Day

Most of us are looking forward to the long weekend that starts later today.  (In Nobleton, the Victoria Day weekend marks a special time as a community, when we celebrate on Monday with a parade through the streets of town, followed by a ‘fun fair’ at the community centre, and an amazing fireworks display in the evening.)  Everybody knows that it’s a long weekend.  But if I asked you what yesterday marked, would you know?

Many of you would know that yesterday was Ascension Day, the day marked by Christians to celebrate the time, forty days after the resurrection, when Jesus ascended into heaven.

Ascension Day is not the most popular feast on the church calendar, but it is an important day.  It underscores the importance of Jesus’ birth, teaching ministry, death, and resurrection.  Without the ascension of Jesus, who “sits at the right hand of the Father” according to the Apostles’ Creed, his role as our one true Intercessor would be missing.  Without the ascension of Jesus, the promised Holy Spirit would not have come to dwell within us as happened at Pentecost, ten days after Jesus ascended.

The disciples were baffled, of course, since they thought the resurrection was the end of the story, and that their ministry with the Lord would carry on as before the crucifixion.  But that was not God’s plan.  No, Jesus assured the disciples that God had another plan for kingdom ministry.  It would be done through them:  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1.8, NIV).

At this, Jesus was taken up into heaven, and his friends stood there, agape, staring up at the sky.  It took a couple of heavenly messengers to remind them of what Jesus had said, and to assure them that he would return, one day, as he had ascended.

With that, the book of Acts continues to retell the unfolding story of the life of the early church, beginning with the appointment of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot, and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the gathered believers.

That same commission, given to the first disciples, is given to disciples today, as well:   “you will be my witnesses.”  Ascension day reminds us that we are called to carry on the work of Christ in the world, sharing his truth and compassion with people locally (Jerusalem), in the region (Judea and Samaria), and all around the world (to the ends of the earth).

Ascension day reminds us that the mission of God in the world is ours to carry out, under the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit.  That’s why I love the Nobleton tradition of celebrating Victoria Day as a community, because it allows me to be a witness for Jesus in our town.  And that’s a start.

What will you do this weekend, or next week, to be a witness of Jesus where you are?