Jesus’ Day Off.
Is it time to take a holiday?
The strains of everyday life can weigh heavily.
The pandemic has brought this out even more sharply. Many have felt isolated, fearful to go out, or take a break from their normal routines.
People have struggled with health and worries about family members; many have suffered loss and bereavement.
All this points to the need for us all to take some time away, and do something a bit different, to give ourselves the space to laugh, relax, and restore our energies.
With all the good weather of late, it is a chance to down tools and take some time.
Even having a “daycation” can restore the equilibrium and can help us feel happy, content and relaxed.
I was once given a lovely book as a leaving gift from one of my parishes.
It is called Jesus’ Day Off, by Nicholas Allen. It is a children’s book with lots of entertaining illustrations.
Over the years, I have used it when asked to tell a story to toddler groups or during messy church summer activity days.
But reflecting on the upcoming holiday season, it has a message for us all.
The story starts by introducing Jesus and his friends.
It then describes a Jesus exhausted from performing miracles, talking to people and trying to change the world.
He goes to the doctor and is prescribed a day off, which he does and goes for a walk, cartwheels in the desert, swims in the sea, has a picnic playing frisbee, and a donkey ride, ending with a relaxing sit in the sun!
It must have been the longest day, yet despite it being wonderful Jesus feels sad and a bit guilty that he had not been at his normal work.
That evening in his prayers, God replied saying: ”Look down there a minute, Son.”
So Jesus looked down…
"Where you did your cartwheels, fountains of water appeared in the desert… where you ate your picnic, the trees bloomed with fruit… when you went swimming, the fishermen had lots of luck… and whoever you passed on your donkey, felt instantly happy.”
The moral of the story ends with the missive that if you feel better about yourself then you can make others feel better and happier too, which is a reminder to us all.
More than ever, we need to take care of ourselves in order to care for others.
It is often true that the simplest things can make us happy.
During lockdown, we may have felt at times isolated or cut off but with that has come more time for walking, reading, relaxing, time in the garden or park, time for ourselves and those we love.
Yet there is still a need for time away, and our faith can encourage reflection with time to pause, be still and pray.
In this way the pace of life can sustain us, rather than having no time to breathe or recharge our batteries.
So this summer season I urge you to take some time, to play in the sand, relax and have some fun.
Whatever the challenges of the past months, we have faith in the knowledge that we are not alone in the world but that a loving God holds us and travels with us on life’s journey.
So wherever or whatever you decide to do I wish you every blessing for a very Happy Holiday!
The Ven Carol Coslett
Archdeacon of Chesterfield