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Recreation is Restoration

posted May 4, 2018, 12:26 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 4, 2018, 12:26 AM ]
Fr Anthony Charanghat

This summer vacation, the hustle and bustle of travel and tourism will peak once again, resulting more in dissipation, rather than recreation and restoration. This occurs because modern holiday packages persuade us that vacation is a vacant time to escape from work, indulge in sleazy entertainment and go on extravagant trips to exotic destinations, leaving us in debt, burnt out and too jaded to be productive of the purpose and direction of the Christian vision of rest and leisure. 

Vacations, or 'holidays', are not mentioned in the Bible, but specific times of rest are discussed, as is stewardship of time and money, the importance of work and relationship with God. The importance of rest to be viewed as a spiritual practice finds its origin in our Creation story. That rest has a meaningful goal is rooted in the biblical ideas of stewardship and rest. 

Scripture portrays work as dignified, a part of God's good Creation before the fall, and no one should avoid it. God Himself is portrayed as a worker (Genesis 1) — planning, deciding, ordering, doing, and evaluating repeatedly in creating the world, and He calls us to share in this mission. 

Scripture also depicts vacation as a time of rest, and God set the example of rest in Genesis 2:2-3 when He ceased from creating. In Exodus 20:8-11, God tells His people that they are to rest from their labour on the seventh day. 

We rest every day through sleep. We have rhythms of work and rest. It is not that rest is our goal, but finding a balance of work and rest gives us a harmony with God's intentions (Psalm 90:12) and re-energises us to be at the service of efficient work to participate in God's ongoing creation. 

The Sabbath was intended to be a time to worship, rest, and find restoration. We show trust in God's providence, when we work as well as rest. We rely upon Him to re-energise our bodies, minds and spirits; we worship Him, and we receive His refreshment. Vacation can be a means of experiencing this presence and restoring grace. 

We are also exhorted to be wise stewards of our finances and time. It is not godly to pay for a vacation by going into debt (Romans 13:8), and we should strive to create affordable, restorative vacations for ourselves and our family. Vacations help us to build on important relationships, be restored and rested, and experience new venues to God and our fellow beings. 

The Church encourages us to take a vacation, not because it is directly commanded in Scripture, but because it is a means by which we are prepared to do what God calls us to. Whether laying a cable or optical fibre in the ocean, our fingers flying vigorously over the key board, teaching in a classroom, making a sale, or building a house, work is something good for which God has made us. 

The real reason that work is experienced as drudgery is because we do not see how it relates to our calling, and how, through it, we can glorify and enjoy God. Our work, our job, is not simply to make money or pay bills; it enables us to fulfil what God wants as our unique vocation in the world. 

God calls us to rest, so that our bodies and minds can be refreshed, enabling us to get back to more efficient work. Rest is not the end. Rest is not the goal. Rest is an interval, to stop so that we can get back on track, to do what God has called us to do with our lives. We must rest to be at the service of individual and communal work.