God of Work and Rest and Pleasure
"God of work and rest and pleasure
grant that what we do this week may be for us
an offering rather than a burden;
and for those we serve, may it be the help they need.”
A New Zealand Prayer Book
Could our daily work become an offering for God and somehow also serve those in need? I often ask this question on days when I am stuck under seas of paperwork or have an endless amount of emails coming through that, very rarely, have anything to do with me and my work.
I do not think that I am alone in this.
Yet, Luther believed that all of our work is an offering to God - not just the spiritual work of the priests of his time - but everyone in their own unique career can fulfill their own unique calling from God.
Just the other day I was speaking to a friend that said they felt guilty for resting. Resting!? Was not the seventh day of creation a day of rest taken by God? God is clear that we all are to take a sabbath day of rest - to rest from our labours. For some, they get to take a more extended rest when they retire from their jobs. Nonetheless, rest is important.
For some, rest may come in the form of gardening. In my home church in Hyde Park many of the folks found rest in their gardens. In fact, the altar flowers from Spring to the end of Summer were typically from a local parishioner’s garden. In the Creation Corner of the Courier today you can watch a recorded webinar about how the Shepherd’s Garden is a place of rest and relaxation for community members - while also serving those in need right here at St. Stephen’s.
And even in our pleasure we can serve God. Psalm 100 reminds us that we are to serve the Lord with gladness and joyful song … and Psalm 4 talks of how the Lord has put gladness in our hearts. It is in our joy - our communal and personal joy - that we both serve and worship God. I once went to a church when I was younger that believed every service on Sunday was to somber and void of joy. That was not how I understood God, and I believe that in communal joy we might be able to witness the power of Christ to others in new and profound ways.
Ultimately, as the prayer from A New Zealand Prayer Book points out - we do this all as a way to serve the people of God while also tending to our own needs. To tend to oneself and to tend to the people of God are not mutually exclusive. They can happen at the same time more often than we may think.
My friends, as you continue (or persevere) through the rest of this week - do so with the knowledge that your actions can serve God in many and varied ways.
Yours in Christ,