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Letter from the Vicar (August 2017)

Dear friends,

Holidays or Holy Days. That’s the derivation, of course, of the word we use to describe those times when we pack up the tent and pitch it somewhere sunny, like Jonah (Jonah 4:5), or crawl off in a caravan towards the sand like Joseph after his brothers sold him into slavery (Genesis 37:25), or perhaps even go sailing round the Med like St. Paul (Acts 27:14ff), though hopefully without being shipwrecked !

Holidays as we know them are quite a recent innovation.  Indeed, the very idea of having paid time off work to go away somewhere else for a few weeks in the year seems a little ridiculous in itself.  The only time off that many people used to have was when there was a Holy Day or a religious celebration like Christmas or Easter, which still survive in the popular imagination as times of rest from work so as to celebrate the feast.  Though these great feasts have doubtless survived through their bizarre cultural accretions, other lesser Holy Days have lost their popular significance and, with it, the time off - for instance, Ascension Day and the feast of the Transfiguration.  No holiday on the Holy Day.

But we don’t take our holidays on Holy Days any more anyway; we tend to pick the slack summer months to disappear for a break when work is slow, schools are out and the sun is shining. Our own town of Weymouth is packed full of people on holiday during these summer months. But I think we should stop calling them holidays now and refer instead to a vacation, an emptying as in academic institutions, a space, a void, to be filled with nothing in particular?  What is holy about them now?

Even though we no longer take time off to celebrate all the red letter days in the book, we still make it a communal habit to take a decent chunk of rest at least once a year, and this I believe is holy.  Rest is good for you, the more the better, a genuinely holy opportunity to be yourself rather than to have to do what others expect of you - after all, God himself rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:3).  But all rest is holy, not just the Sabbath day; it is the chance to discover what God made you to be, free from the pressures and distractions of life.  Rest is time to think and time to meet God in your prayers.  For goodness sake, don’t squander such a valuable and precious commodity on work!  Holidays are far more important.

If you are off on holiday have a good break.  If you are visiting us in Weymouth and at church – a warm welcome!

Father Andrew

Revd Canon Andrew Gough

August 2017


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