It’s half term!

It’s been quite a while since my last blog post and sorry to say I have got out of the habit so here goes..…

Someone recently said to me “I’ll get back to you after the half term holiday” and it was a sobering reminder that I have now passed the time when half-term means anything significant to me anymore now our children have grown up. It was a bit of a shock yesterday when I went for a swim at my local pool to go through the doors and instantly realize because of the noise and the crowds that yes, it is half term!

There was a time when this was a big part of my planning, getting in early for holiday park family holiday before everything sold out, trying hard to avoid putting appointments and work meetings in those weeks without realizing it. As a Christian Minister, I rarely took annual leave at Christmas and Easter and in fact it was sometimes good to be working when things were otherwise quiet to catch up on things without being interrupted or noticed.  October half-term had another significance in the joy experienced if we could successfully arrive at that point in late October without turning the central heating on! These days of rising fuel prices have an impact on this and there are so many in these times who are sadly facing the choices of whether to heat or to eat and we should stand together with them.

For some the Christian calendar, which starts in Advent each year is what provides rhythm and staging posts through the year with festivals, and special days and perhaps material to pray through and reflect upon. For many the season of Lent takes on particular significance. Some people use an academic diary while others use a calendar. For some, the financial and tax year which begins on April 6th each year is what dominates.

And what about other cycles of time, months with birthdays and other celebrations and anniversaries and of course ‘payday’ (if that is monthly) and how each month tends to be in terms of weather and the seasons and a connection with our physical environment and ecology.

What about the weeks, does the week start for you on a Monday or a Sunday for example or even perhaps on a different day? When do you take time to rest, create, a take time to develop friendships with those who follow Jesus and those who don’t? Perhaps you find that a disruption to your expected routine can be quite disconcerting or even liberating. This could be through change of circumstances and the COVID 19 pandemic has certainly thrown a lot of habits and routines up in the air and not all of them have landed again!

In terms of daily routine, we are just as diverse, aren’t we? The daily ‘quiet time’ has been a long-established part of daily Christian discipleship, but we can see a rediscovery at the moment of a variety of moments and styles of prayer and devotion through the day that can really help to centre our daily lives in Jesus. Our technology can help with apps, emails, and websites to provide environments to encounter Jesus but sadly there have been times in my life I confess when the first thing I have found myself doing each day was checking my emails from people. That was a habit that needed to be broken!

For others it is possible to just take each day as it comes, and this can be a real gift. The Message version of the Bible offers Matthew 6:34 as “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes”. Easier said than done, I know, but I want more of that way of life if I can.

I am in a season of my life when I have fewer deadlines and seemingly ‘urgent’ things to deal with, but that privilege also comes with a responsibility to be wise and faithful in how I use my time. Have I made a difference, have I grown as a person to be more like the person God wants me to be? Have I taken one step forward and two steps back? Am I accountable to others in relationships of trust and fellowship? Jesus came that I might have life in all its fullness (John 10:10)

I think, on reflection, it is important not to condemn ourselves for our apparent ‘flakiness’ but to return to being ever more thankful for what God has done on a regular basis. Journaling can help with this, or you can find other ways. “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!”  wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer and I think of Samuel setting up an Ebenezer stone in 1 Samuel 7:2 meaning ‘thus far the Lord has helped us’

A bit of a ramble this one, I know, so forgive me please, but maybe you can identify one or two of the things I have described that are for you at this time. I hope I have a encouraged you in knowing that God is with you in the whole of your life. And so as this blog comes to an end, I have resolved to be more disciplined and regular with these maybe weekly or fortnightly – so let’s see how that goes!

Photo by Manasvita S on Unsplash

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