Pulse — July 2018 — The Stillness of Summer

Summer is here! School’s out! BBQs, trips to the lake, hiking, picnics, movies on the Village Green, concerts in the park…Bellingham is an amazing city in the summer!

For all the activity and excitement of this season, we also know that summer is a time of rest. A time to slow down our lives and kick off our shoes, to sit and enjoy the ones we love. There is an invitation to stillness — whether that’s around a bonfire or with a cup of coffee in the pre-dawn light of these long days. We do well to attend to this invitation, to find the places of stillness and silence, in order to find ourselves again in the quiet, to focus and seek God’s voice in prayer.

We cultivate an immense space in ourselves when we learn to engage stillness and rest. The practice of keeping the Sabbath, for instance, is a gift given to God’s people so that we might be still and replenish the reserves in ourselves that can only be found by stopping, slowing down, and breathing in the glory of creation around us. We stop on the Sabbath day — stop from creating, stop from working, cease from striving to make the world in our own image. And when we stop, we open ourselves up to the glory of God that we have been too busy to see. This glory fills us and opens us up, making us more able to engage our world in those other 6 days with strength and purpose.

The stillness of summer is, as well, an invitation to restoration and replenishment. Perhaps this summer affords you some time to slow down with family and friends. Perhaps you’re taking a road trip or visiting grandchildren. How might the activity of these leisurely endeavors invite you to slow down and appreciate the stillness of a moment a little more? Will there be moments when you sit beside someone who love and simply take a breath? I hope these will be opportunities to catch a little bit of the glory of Sabbath rest that God intends for us all. I hope these moments will roll together into an accumulation of restorative time, calling your soul back out from the place it was hiding through the frenzied pace of the rest of the year.

In these months of June and July, we’re talking about what it means to “speak up” as God’s people. And the more I study these texts, the more I realize that while we are called to speak up, we also must replenish the reservoir from which we speak. In order words, we need stillness and silence in order to give us ground to stand on when we stand up and speak out. They are partners, practices that feed each other. The more we cultivate the space of stillness in ourselves, the greater our ability to then speak with wisdom and courage.

Family of God — I hope that you find God’s deep rest and restoration in this season. I hope that it builds you up so that we can continue to come back together, tell stories of how God is at work around us, and then, as a people energized, we might continue to pursue the challenging and good work God has in store for us.

May God’s peace rest upon you,

Pastor Seth

©2018 St. James Presbyterian Church