I have read the Bible many times and have found no evidence that Jesus ever took the summer off. Therefore, my philosophy has always been that neither should we. But I am also confident that when the summer breeze wafted over the Sea of Galilee, Jesus took some time off to go swimming, grill some fish, and play Frisbee (or the ancient equivalent).
We should also keep the churches open and ready to welcome and serve because Jesus said, “the poor shall always be with you.” I take “the poor” to include those who cannot afford to go to some exciting vacation by land or sea. And I take “the poor” to include those who are grieving or in poor health and need support at a time when many other persons are at the beach and its “summertime and the livin’ is easy.” And I take “the poor” to include those who feel “poor” if they cannot start their Sunday and their week with one hour of devotion, prayer, music and message.
I really enjoy church in the summer. I enjoy the informality and the lack of fuss. I enjoy listening to soloists or other instrumentalists not on vacation or sabbatical until the week after Labor Day. I even enjoy fine recorded music if that is all there is to offer. I enjoy the intimate setting and the special bond with the Summer Service People. And I really enjoy and feel good knowing that we are “present and accounted for” in case someone needs us.
For the remaining Sundays between now and Labor Day ~ if you cannot physically be in church ~ then continue to be there spiritually, wherever you may wander, wherever you may roam. Pray for your church while you are away. And if indeed you are away somewhere ~ don’t forget that the church is still here “holding up the fort” and that the bills never take a vacation. Let us remember to thank those who keep the church open. And remember to thank God for a full-time Jesus in a summertime season.
Dwight Lee Wolter is pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York. He blogs at dwightleewolter.com ~ tweets @dwightleewolter ~ and on Facebook under Dwight Lee Wolter.