As the summer season begins, I was considering how over the past few years worship attendance at Christ Presbyterian Church hasn’t trailed off as much as it had historically. I hope that this reflects a positive spiritual reality in our worship. I have always been uneasy with the fact that during the summer you will find many Churches almost drop off the map.
During the summer, worship attendance falls, Sunday School shuts down and even pastoral calls seem to taper off. On one level, this is a very good thing. Giving teachers and students time to renew themselves can be a positive thing. Our practice of going to one service at 10 AM serves more than just a numerical need. Yes, it is true that as folks travel, our attendance drops, and by offering one service we have a larger congregation. More importantly, it allows the participants of our two services to worship together for two month in a unified service. Even the amount of pastoral calls or visits I make seem to lessen during the summer, even though it is a great time for such visits since I am freed from many of the other concerns that take my time.
Summer in our culture is more than just a season of the year. It is seen as a time when things are supposed to slow down. It is a time when we are encouraged to relax and recreate. As I considered the meaning of summer in our culture, I was reminded of the hymn, “Take Time To Be Holy.” Written in 1882, not by a theologian or songwriter, but by English businessman William Longstaff, it is a reminder that Holiness is something that requires time and attention.
Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on; Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be; Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide; And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord, And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul, Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love, Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
Often, spiritual realities are taken for granted. We assume that if God wants us to be something, God will make it happen. The fact of the matter is that we need to make sure that we are truly taking time to be holy. Longstaff eloquently reminds us that our Christian life is made better and more meaningful when we spend time in our relationship with God.
This summer I hope and pray that you are able to find ways to rest and rejuvenate. I hope that your families are able to enjoy one another and renew your relationships. While I know that many won’t be able to take a vacation or enjoy the splendor of summer as much as others, I hope you will be able to find time to experience renewal during this season.
I also want to challenge you to consider how it is that during your summer you are taking time to be holy. I pray that you will find a community of faith wherever you are. Summer is a wonderful time to worship at Christ Presbyterian Church. It is a time when our community is united in worship in a very meaningful way. This summer we have already planned special musical offerings that will include some individuals you might not normally see in such a role.
I also want to invite you to call upon me this summer. As I said earlier, during the summer I am freed from some of the time consuming duties that at times get in the way of personal ministry. I always look forward to spending time with individuals and families of our church, and summer is a great time for this to happen.
À How will you take time to be holy this summer?