I’m back. It’s great to be back in this new year sharing some thoughts with you. So, let me wish you a Happy New Year filled with God’s blessings. Welcome to our blog from the Red Roof Church. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church here in Bulverde, Texas at the junction of Hwy 281 and FM 1863. The good folks of St. Paul welcome you to worship with us every Sunday at 8:30AM for our traditional celebration or at 10:45AM for our contemporary worship. You can also check us out at www.redroofchurch.org on the internet where our morning worship can be viewed after 2:00PM via our website on Facebook and YouTube.
I haven’t written any blogs or recorded any vlogs for the past few weeks because of Christmas responsibilities and I finally took a few weeks off from work. I didn’t go anywhere, but just relaxed at home with Karen and our girls (our Golden Retrievers, Jessie and Molly). It was great. I came to realize that in the last three years I hadn’t taken any official vacation time, not counting a long weekend to marry my oldest daughter (kind of like work) and a stay in the hospital with recovery for heart surgery (stints). Within a few days the tension pressures melted away and I actually slept good.
It’s not easy for a workaholic to let go and take time off. Add to that a touch of being a control freak and it becomes almost impossible to get away from the daily routine, but I needed to in the worst way. Friends were telling me how I needed to and were overjoyed when I finally scheduled the time off. Taking time away, call it vacation, call it sabbatical, call it anything you want, we all need time to renew and rejuvenate ourselves. I forgot that.
God knew it all along. Why else would He provide for us a day of rest which He Himself took. And by the way, that seventh day of rest was not called the Sabbath or Sunday in Genesis, but what it was for God and for us — a time of rest. It was later on that we made the false connection under Moses and the Law to the idea of a day of rest and the Sabbath or Sunday as one in the same. They aren’t.
First, we definitely need a day of worship and reflection on our relationship with God in the framework of family, a community of believers (a congregation or church body), and in the world. This day is a blessing that helps guide us in the way we live, work, play and relate during the rest of the week.
Second, we need to take a regular day of rest. Oh, maybe it will be a time of energetic activity, but if it gets us away from the regular day to day, week to week activity — our work — the change is what provides our rest and restoration.
It’s not like I did nothing for the weeks I was off. On the Sundays, I went to worship with Karen just like regular people. It was different, but it was nice, too. (We don’t get to do that too often. Besides, after preaching and teaching our need to NOT take time off from God, I didn’t want to be branded a hypocrite.) It was fun to worship without the pressures of leadership.
The rest of the time I relaxed, watched some old movies, played some games (Skyrim rules) and did a fair amount of writing. I’m currently working on my second cookbook with stories about Karen and I in our early years of marriage. Throw in some devotionals and some dynamite recipes and I hope to have another winner for anyone interested. We give it as a gift to new disciples joining the congregation.
So, vacation is over and I feel rested. I suspect it won’t take too much for the old tensions to return. It’s part of the job, but it was nice not to have to feel their pressure every day. So, I’m back in the pulpit, back creating and leading our regular Bible studies, teaching confirmation, counseling, problem solving and, of course, sharing blogs with you. Rest assured though, I’ll be taking some more time off this year because I’ve got it coming; but, more importantly, it’s a good thing to do. Better than that, it’s a God thing to do.
Don’t you forget to do the same when you can. God insists. And those are my thoughts. God bless.
Pastor Lee R. Harder