A letter from the Vicarage – Rev’d Andy Stand
How are you doing?
I heard the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, reflecting on Radio 2’s Pause for Thought recently, encouraging listeners to slow down our pace of life. He had been walking the St. Cuthbert’s Way, from Melrose to Holy Island, and he had seen much of nature that he wouldn’t have been able to see had he been travelling by car.
One of the most popular and best known passages in the bible is the 23rd psalm:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
Whenever I read it, it reminds me of occasions that I have spent walking in the countryside, (occasionally doing a long-distance walk myself) through fields and meadows besides streams, and often leaves me yearning to be in those places again just spending time walking and relaxing, away from the hustle and bustle of modern day life.
Maybe July or August will afford you the opportunity, to do just that to get away from it all, either for the odd day or two, maybe a weekend or for a longer holiday and period of rest. I do hope so.
In St. John’s gospel, chapter 6, Jesus makes the claim, ‘I AM the bread of life’. In so doing Jesus claims to be the fundamental staple needed to sustain and feed us, to strengthen us for the demands of everyday life. Those needs of course aren’t just spiritual ones, but are physical as well.
In an age where we find ourselves constantly urged to increase our efforts and our efficiencies, it is all too tempting to try to prove our own self-worth by working ever harder, faster and longer. If though we give in to those temptations we will surely end up burning ourselves out. The physical demands will become too much for our bodies to cope with.
Jesus’ practice was to regularly withdraw himself, taking himself away from the crowds that flocked to hear him, so that he and his disciples could make time to relax and replenish their energy levels; tending both to physical and spiritual needs.
Jesus invited his disciples to, ‘Come away and rest with me a while’. I appreciate that for many of us, particularly those with small families or loved ones who need constant care and attention, the invitation is easier to make than to accept. But none the less, God makes the invitation and I strongly encourage you to find some means of saying ‘yes’.
However you find yourself spending your time during July and August, I pray that it may be a time of sustenance and recreation.
Revd. Andy Stand