E-pistle September 26

Far From the Madding Crowd
Becky and I will be away from LPC this weekend, and I must say part of me is not at all happy about missing worship and fellowship with all of you.  But there’s another part of me that is eager for the break!  We’ll be leaving for Cape Cod early Friday morning and returning to Langhorne Monday evening.  We have been offered the use of a vacation home there and didn’t hesitate to accept the offer. 
Okay, it’s a mini-vacation and we’re going to have a great time.  Can we leave it at that?  We’ll leave most of it at that, but there is, because there always is, a spiritual dimension to all of this.  Last week at our Session retreat I mentioned the old saying, “If Jesus isn’t Lord of all, he isn’t Lord at all.”  If Jesus is Lord of time, then he is Lord of our free time, our vacations and our holidays. 
Becky and I are looking forward to the few days on Cape Cod as away time.  We will be away from our jobs and away from the distractions of everyday life.  We are looking forward to less movement and less noise.  We will walk on the beach and watch the waves break under the gray skies.  We’ll read and listen to music and enjoy one another’s company.  And we will ask the Spirit to be with us.
In last week’s Mark study we passed quickly over Mark 1:35-39.  It’s still early in Jesus’ ministry and already he needs a break.  He gets up very early in the morning and goes to a solitary place.  The word solitary is more accurately translated as empty or abandoned.  I’ve never been to Cape Cod before; however, I don’t expect it to be empty or abandoned in a literal sense.  But for us it will be empty of usual routine and abandoned by daily distractions. 
Jesus went to the lonely place to pray, that is to commune with his Father.  Becky and I are not planning a prayer retreat.  We’re planning to have fun, to relax, enjoy, rest and maybe eat some lobster. And we will pray and we will read the Word and we will worship together.  I think the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are happy to be invited to join in all such activities; they don’t appreciate being confined to the “spiritual” alone. 
Are all vacations and trips Mark 1:35 events?  No.  Nor should they be.  But God still has plans for them.  For us, this weekend holds the promise of God’s call to a wonderfully empty and abandoned time. 
Over the years I have been a great advocate and terrible practitioner of time away.  Thank you for allowing me the time to practice a little of what I preach.