A Break From Work, Not Worship
by Eddie Short
August is traditionally a time for family holidays, for taking a break from work, relaxing and recharging our batteries. Which, of course, is a biblical principle. After the creation narrative in Genesis 1, we read at the beginning of Genesis 2 that God took a break on the seventh day, setting it apart and blessing it. It is good and right to balance our work – both secular and serving God – with time off to reflect, recharge and relax.
Time away on holiday is also a great opportunity to experience different expressions of church. We are part of a global fellowship of believers, which means however far we travel, in this country or abroad, there is likely to be a Christian church within easy reach. Visiting other churches, especially those in different parts of the world, gives us the opportunity to broaden our horizons and strengthen our faith. There is something quite spiritually profound in worshipping with a group of complete strangers from another culture who share the same faith in Jesus. Over the past couple of years I have had two very different, but equally positive, experiences of visiting churches while away on holiday.
When Nic and I were visiting Nashville a couple of years ago to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, we visited a ‘mega church’ on the outskirts of the city. The worship was more like a concert than a church service; not something we’d want to be a part of on a regular basis, but great as a one-off. However, it was the sermon from a visiting preacher that I really connected with. It spoke directly to my situation at the time and afterwards I looked him up online. Since then I have found the podcasts from the church he was in the process of planting to be a huge blessing.
Then, earlier this year, we visited Norway over Easter. While we were there we attended, as a family, the Easter Sunday service at the Anglican Church in Bergen, which is also incidentally called St. Mary’s. This turned out to be a joint service between the English-speaking Anglican congregation and the Norwegian-speaking Church of Norway congregation. While the sermon was (thankfully) in English, the liturgy and hymns were in a mixture of the two languages. Being part of this multilingual celebration of Jesus’ resurrection was both poignant and affirming: Jesus defeated death for all people, of all nationalities, from all over the world!
At both of these churches, and the many others we have visited while traveling, we were made to feel very welcome and included. So, the next time you are away on holiday, I’d encourage you to seek out a local church service and expand your ecclesiastical horizons! And, even if you aren’t going away, there is an opportunity to worship at three different churches throughout August without leaving the team! There will be just one joint service in each of our four churches on the four Sundays of this month. This isn’t an excuse to have three weeks off, but rather a great opportunity to experience all four of the congregations that make up our team and also to get to know the wider church family a little better.
I won’t be there, as our family is spending the summer in America. But I will be joining you in worship, visiting yet another new church…