The Epistle is the Osgoode-Kars Pastoral Charge. Please click on the Epistle logo above or link below to read the latest edition.
It is a time for Sabbath pause. A time to rest. A time to, as Eugene Peterson says about the Sabbath, to quit whatever is taking up our time, to stop, to take a break. The season of summer is our time for Sabbath pause for in resting in God, we are restored to life.
Now, lest you think you simply have to stop whatever you are doing and rest in the presence of God for 5 minutes, an hour or a day throughout the season of summer I offer you some ideas. These are meant to inspire you (as hard as they might be to undertake). These are not only for you but to be shared with and undertaken by your spouse, kids, other family members and friends close by and those some distance away. Maybe there are some ideas here that you can undertake as a family or with a group of friends.
I came across these ideas in reading a blogpost written by Bob McDonald, host of the CBC radio program "Quirks and Quarks." McDonald writes in part (and with truth I might add):
"As many of us head off for summer break - perhaps to enjoy far-off places, or spend time relaxing at home or the cottage - here's a challenge: turn off all your devices, for a whole entire day. Try a dose of reality instead.
We spend so much time looking at glowing screens that our experiences of nature, even when we're right in the middle of it, are rapidly fading into the background - sometimes quite literally.
If you visit famous spots such as Niagara Falls or lookouts in the Rocky Mountains, you will quickly encounter people who have turned their backs on the very views they came to see, so they can use them as selfie backdrops. After taking photos from several different angles, they will sit hunched over their devices, posting the images of themselves on Facebook. By the end, they will have spent more time looking at their phones than the scenery.
Stop. Look. Listen. Try experiencing a special place (either far away or in your own backyard or a park) with just your five senses."
McDonald goes on to offer the following ideas (with some re-imagining from me):
This Season of Sabbath pause, turn off your laptop, your desktop computer, your radio, your cell phone, your television, your iPad. Turn off whatever electronic devices you are tethered to as if your life depended on them. Turn them off for a day here and there throughout our time of Sabbath pause. And then go outside not taking anything with you, not even a book. Go outside and rest and listen, look, touch, smell and taste the wonder and beauty of God's creation and give thanks to God. Give thanks to God for the beauty of life all around us. If you do this as a family or with a group of friends, talk about what you experience, share your thanks with one another.
I offer this prayer that you may want to use each day of our Sabbath pause. The prayer is inspired by the book Sabbath Pause by Terry Chapman:
"This day, in this season of slowing down, of resting, I enter a time of Sabbath pause where my life returns to you, my God. Be with me and help me to set aside a Sabbath pause each day where I intentionally rest in you, saying to you two words "thank you." Amen.
Won't you join me in a time of Sabbath pause?
I will be taking times of Sabbath pause throughout the summer. I will still be ministering, leading worship, visiting, making plans for fall worship and taking holidays at some point. But, I will also intentionally, more than normal, be taking Sabbath pause. Pausing to rest in God. Pausing to listen, look, touch, smell and taste. And as I rest, I will give my gratitude and thanksgiving to God for life, for the abundant blessings showered upon me, for the beauty of God's creation and holding each of you in prayer.
Do note the following:
For the month of July, we hold joint worship at St. James at 10 a.m. July 3 includes the Sacrament of Holy Communion. July 17 includes personal prayers for peace and healing with anointing.
For August through Labour Day weekend, we hold joint worship at Trinity at 10 a.m. August 7 includes the Sacrament of Holy Communion. August 21 includes personal prayers for peace and healing with anointing.
I hope to see you at worship over the Summer. Come as you are. And, if you have dirty hands and fingernails, I will know that you have been at Sabbath rest.
For everyone travelling near or far, may you be held in God's love and compassion until we meet again.
Summer Sabbath blessings,
Rev. Grant McNeil
WELCOME TO ST. JAMES UNITED CHURCH IN OSGOODE!
Are you looking for a vibrant, active and a friendly church where you can nurture your spirit and meet kindred souls?
St. James United Church in Osgoode welcomes all who come to share in worship and fellowship with us.
If you are visiting or are new to the community, please do not hesitate to come to our doors on Sunday morning or contact our church office for more information.
God welcomes all. We welcome all. Come just as you are.