“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers” (James 1:22)
July and August is usually a time when we think of holidays and think of lazy days in the sunshine. I find myself challenged by both these ideas of laziness and sunshine. It is raining as I write this letter. The excessive temperatures of May and June have been replaced by a coolness that has already made me put my pullover back on! And the idea of spending a few days (even weeks) of idleness is something I find I am uncomfortable with.
We will be studying the book of James until the Circuit Celebration Sunday of 16th July, and he tells us, “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers.” I hope, then each one of us will then go into the following week working out what that means for of us, in our own situations. I don’t know whether it is just me, or men in general, but I feel that I have accomplished something if I can look back over a day or week and see that I have done something new. However, that view ignores the benefit of the keeping going of everything in life which needs to be done: the essential mundane, even boring, tasks. And what would life be like if all those little (or even big) essential jobs were not done? George Herbert’s hymn (StF 668) ‘Teach me, my God and King, in all things thee to see’ tells us that ‘A servant... makes drudgery divine’ if it is done ‘for thy [God’s] sake.’ I think I need to learn that lesson. Maybe most of us do.
Rest, however, is important. We need to balance our work and service, against our own well-being. As a new minister the concept of Sabbath rest is something I am having to re-learn. Sundays are now busy days of work, but if I then work the other six days of the week I find that things don’t go well at all. The Sabbath is an important day, an important rhythm which is for our advantage, to remind us that God’s ways are for our benefit and that we need to rely on God in our lives, not just whatever we can do, and what we have achieved, for ourselves.
I hope you all have a great summer, and that you manage to get those jobs done that can only be completed in the dry and warm, but also that you have a break away from things, whether with family and friends, or just by doing something different. The word ‘Holiday’ comes from ‘Holy-Days’; so, may your labours and your rest, your breaks from the routine and the new things you do, be blessings to you and to others. And may these days be made holy by remembering God is with us in all things.
May God bless you all,