When the final bell rings on the last day of school, it signals the beginning of a time to dream and pretend — even if you’ve been out of school for more years than you can remember. It signals a time when the regular routine is interrupted and there is more time to reflect, to pray, and to do things with family and friends. Whether those moments include helping a child learn how to ride a two-wheel bike, heading off on a fishing trip or planning the annual family reunion, these are the times that shape the lives of the children in our lives — and that keep our roots deep in what matters in life.
The summer months offer a host of multigenerational events for families and friends to enjoy together. You might want to attend the June-Fete with family and friends, listen to a concert in the park, check out what your library has to offer or even get your neighbors together for a block party.Summer in the Church Year is that luxuriously relaxing season called “Ordinary Time” or the “Season after Pentecost.” The paraments on pulpit and altar are green, the pastors’ vestments are green, and week after week we see as much green in church as we see outdoors. This “ordinary time” is a time without any major Church Year festivals — instead it is a time to relax, slow down and GROW. I love this season!
Instead of being marked by major religious festivals, most of us “mark” this season by Memorial Day, The Fourth of July, vacations, day trips to the beach or the mountains, family visits, and Labor Day. Each of these “secular markers” can provide a real opportunity to examine how our faith intersects with our “ordinary life.”
Summer is a Great Time to start Family Night:
- Designate one evening a week as “Family Night”
- Try to make Family Night the same night each week.
- Make a family fun box (decorate the outside of a shoebox or oatmeal container.)
- Have each family member write down on slips of paper something FREE to do as a family: reading a book aloud; playing a game the whole family can play together; going to the park together; walks; croquet; badminton; basketball; model clay; make collages of seeds or noodles; sing old songs; have an everybody-do-something talent show; light candles and play old records; catch fireflies; roast marshmallows over the grill; redecorate all the bulletin boards in the house; make Valentines or Christmas cards; make popcorn balls; do a jigsaw puzzle; etc. NOTE: Mom & Dad can put in fun things that cost money if they want to do so, but only adults or children-with-money-of-their-own can put in something for the whole family to do that will cost money.)
- Give each family member a different colored piece of paper (or use different colored markers for each family member) on which to write each of his or her suggested family activities; the person whose color is selected one week does not get another turn until all the other colors have been chosen.
- When the designated evening rolls around, pull a slip of paper from the fun box and do whatever it tells you.
- Add to the box an family members come up with additional ideas.
Investigate Your Family’s History: As families live farther apart, reunions have become important events where extended family members can become reacquainted and, in some cases, meet each other for the first time. Summer is a wonderful time for investigating your family’s history, contacting distant relatives, and making friends with the people God has put in our lives.
If you haven’t already done this, summer makes a wonderful time to interview your old relatives with a tape recorder. (Or, to invite your young relatives over for lemonade and watermelon and haul out the tape recorder yourself.) Preserve a bit of family history on cassette or videotape. Before the tape starts running, put together a list of questions to get things started: What is your birth date? Where were you born? Where did you go to school and what was school like back then? What were your parents and grandparents names? What did they do for a living? What special stories do you remember about each of them? What was your favorite activity as a child? What was your favorite pet? Describe the house/town/state/country you grew up in. What was your most memorable birthday? What made you afraid when you were a child? How did you meet your spouse? Describe your first date. What has changed most in your lifetime? What were your most dangerous/exciting adventures? What stories from your life are you the most proud of? What family recipes have been handed down through the generations? Do you have any old pictures of your old relatives? (These should get you started.)
It is part of God’s plan that there should be times of rest and worship built into our lives. One of the commandments (the third one) even instructs us to set aside one day a week for special time with God (worship) and rest.
In our busy, busy culture, it is almost impossible for us to set aside one whole day each week when we don’t do work of some sort. Usually the “days of rest” are spent catching up with home-chores or work-chores. Why not let this summer be the time when you (and your family) set aside one day a week when no one can work. It’s easy to know what “work” is: if you don’t want to do any particular chore — it’s work! Don’t do it on that day.
The laundry will still be there tomorrow; the dishes will still be there tomorrow; the house will still need painting tomorrow; the back yard will still be a mess tomorrow. No matter how hard you work today, there will always be just as much to do tomorrow. So, this summer, why not begin the habit of setting aside just one day a week not to work and to worship. This is more than a habit — it’s a spiritual discipline.
As your pastors, the way we try to do this is by setting aside Friday (our day off) as the day we don’t work. (This doesn’t always work, but most of the time it does.) When we’re on vacation, we go to a Saturday night worship service somewhere and then set aside Saturday night and Sunday as the “Sabbath,” for not-working.
May this summer be for you (and those whose lives you touch) a time of refreshment, relaxation, and spiritual growth.