Jesus writes – Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace…” What a powerful way of seeing our relationship with God. Keep company with me Jesus says and we will learn to live freely and lightly. I can’t imagine any person not wanting this experience in their lives yet we struggle on without asking for help from God and from others.

In a world where stress has infected church and society I am sure we wonder if it really is possible to live freely and lightly.

Stress causes all sorts of complications in our lives. It relates to our effectiveness in the workplace and it puts strain on our most valuable and important relationships.

The demands and commitments of life and work often stop people also coming to church as they see Sunday as the only free day they have. It is sad that church is seen as a chore and not a joy. It concerns me that we have allowed other things to get in the way of taking time to worship Him who has given us so many good things. By not taking time out with God we disobey.

It is good for us to not work 7 days a week, God meant that we have a day of rest and reflection and that is so tragic when that day excludes God who gave it to us as a gift.

Stress affects clergy too, studies show that church leaders and their entire families’ battle with the squeeze and rush of life with its commitments.

You might be able to tell at this point that my book for arrow these weeks is on stress. I feel stressed reading it, well not quite. It is an extra though, and that is often the problem with all of us. We feel burned out by the collection and culmination of all the little things needing doing; the things that always require our attention.

I am sure many of you have experienced one of those days when things seem to conspire against us when something breaks down or we get unexpected bad news. Jesus is offering us his shoulder as he walks with us and shares the excessive pressures we live with.

Pressure itself is not a negative thing. In fact, most people react very positively to deadlines as it means a focused mind; it mobilizes our energy and resources. I would say I thrive on bustle. It’s when it turns to stress and strain, and then we have problems.

We have had extremely busy periods in parish life and the pressure has focused us to get the work done and that has been brilliant. In these summer months I pray that as the pace slows a little we will take time to be renewed to keep company with Jesus no matter where you are. Whatever parts of God’s world you might have the opportunity to be in over the
Summer, may you learn again the unforced rhythms of grace.

Thank you to all of you for your dedication and commitment. Watch how Jesus did it and live by the unforced rhythms of grace.

Continue to pray for Mark and me, for Adam and Marlyn, and the ministry team as they have time out and as we also plan ahead.

I pray that you will have a beautiful summer.

With love and prayers