We made it through another strange and difficult school and church year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our children’s ministry programs have held on through new variants, vaccine rollouts for children, and the ups and downs of community infection rates. If ever there was a need for summer vacation, it is now. We are all tired of the constant uncertainty that has persisted these past two and a half years. This summer is a much-needed sabbatical for children and families to regroup and refresh.
The word sabbatical has deep roots in our Christian faith. By definition “sabbatical” means “of or relating to the sabbath.” On the sabbath day God rested, and so should we. A sabbatical is not only rest, but time to let go of the extras that have been piling up for the past year. For children summer is a break from the rigors of academic pursuits. Summer days can be filled with camps, time with relatives, playing, being home, or spending time outside on long, warm days. It is also a time of transition for the next year. I remember as a girl feeling that summer was a time to just be me for a while, not trying to learn new academic lessons or social expectations. Days were filled with exploring the neighborhood, spending time with family and friends, and noodling around through boredom.
Church continues to be a place for children and families to gather and grow in the summer. Of course, there are opportunities for faith formation through worship, outreach, camps, and programs like vacation Bible school. Even more importantly, worshipping year-round is a reminder that, as God’s creatures, our lives are rooted in God’s creation; infinite and expansive. Eugene Peterson, creator of The Message, wrote, “sabbath is that uncluttered time and space in which we can distance ourselves from our own activities enough to see what God is doing.”
God’s love is abounding, even when our lives are in transition. We do not have to be moving toward a goal to experience the full embrace of God’s care for us. Summer is the perfect time to feel this sabbatical from worldly expectations and relish the joy of God’s forever acceptance of us as who we are. God loves us now.