Thursday, July 02, 2009

...School's Out!

This is scheduled to appear in our local newspaper tomorrow.

I’ve always loved summer holidays. I was always a pretty good student but I still preferred being out of school to being in school. There may be some who prefer it the other way around but I’m pretty sure they’re in the minority.

Now that my kids don’t have to get up for school I don’t have to set my alarm. I don’t have to get up and make them breakfast. I don’t have to hurry them through their morning routine (sometimes by yelling at them) so that they get to school on time. In the evening when I come home and want to play Rock Band or Guitar Hero with them or watch a movie together I don’t have to think about whether they’ve done their homework.

For ten weeks life will be much more relaxed in our household. We’ll go away camping for a couple of weeks, something we’ve been looking forward to since the winter. We might go for a picnic in the park, maybe a day at the beach, swimming in a friend’s pool, an evening at the drive in.

For a couple of months life will be different. The regular routine of the rest of the year takes a break. We have the flexibility to do some different things, to be more spontaneous, to experience something out-of-the-ordinary. The summer holidays are a time when we can enjoy surprises and not be thrown for a loop by the unexpected, when we can be more relaxed and take things in stride because life is less regimented and we won’t be thrown off when things are out of the ordinary.

The readings and stories that we will hear in the Bible often bring us images and ideas that are out of the ordinary, that are surprising, that are unexpected. Jesus says that when God rules in our lives we’re in a strange place. The way we usually think of things, the way the world works, our normal ideas of power and glory, are turned upside down. The regular routine is disrupted.

A poor widow’s coin is valued more than the riches of the wealthy. Children are welcomed and the important and wealthy are humbled. The greatest of all is the servant of all. The one who has power over the wind and the waves empties himself of that power and follows a path in life that will lead to his death on a cross. It seems backward. It seems upside down. It’s out-of-the-ordinary.

The biblical story can seem an odd story. But for people of faith, people for whom the biblical story becomes their story, it becomes a life giving story. I enjoy the summer holidays. I enjoy the break from the routine. I enjoy the spontaneous interruptions. I enjoy the time to experience the out-of-the-ordinary. John Lennon wrote, and sang, that "Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans." It’s the unexpected and unplanned that is often the most life giving and joy filled.

The story of the Bible, like many of our summer experiences, is not necessarily what we expect, not what we’re used to. But the story of the Bible teaches us that a relationship with God is fulfilling, that Jesus came to give abundant life, that his love makes us new. May our summer experiences give us renewal and refreshment. May the stories of our faith and our life in God do the same.

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