Thursday, June 24, 2010

Another kind of hiatus, for real

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life. I will show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me -- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you will learn to live freely and lightly.
~ Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)


If you are a subscriber to the RSS feed for this blog, you know a little more detail about this than if you are not. When I published-and-then-immediately-deleted a blog post yesterday, the RSS feed picked it up and held on tight. But I think I'm content just to let it go and not dwell on the reasons behind my decision to take a two-month hiatus from church, choosing instead to focus on reconnecting with God and with Jesus and with me during that time.

Anyway, this scripture passage found its way to me via this post on something called The Bluevine Collective, a new initiative of St. Luke's United Methodist Church and its satellite church, The Garden. In his post, Rev. Stan Abell says "Theologian Paull Tillich would say we have confused our ultimate concern (God) with primary concerns (house, car, work, superfluous busyness). Houses, cars, and work have become our religion with which we really are burned out." But I know, for me, it's the institution of religion -- and its expression through human hands, voices, and judgments -- that I'm really burned out on.

My imperfection and your imperfection get in the way of my relationship with God and with Jesus Christ. There isn't really a greater concentration of imperfection within the church, but because of the number and nature of my church-based relationships, the imperfections are more obvious and more obstructive to me right now.

So I'm taking some time off: just July and August -- not that much time, really, but enough time to step out of the routine of the superfluous busyness and to reconnect in relationship with the Guy I follow and the One so many of us call Father.

Each morning for the next couple months, I'll review the scripture above. It's a great reminder that my time off shouldn't be wasted -- in fact, these two months may be fuller of spiritual growth than the last five years! There's lots to do; a lot of verbs in that passage: Get away. Recover. Rest. Walk. Work. Watch. Learn. Keep company.

Here's to living freely and lightly!


Clifton said...

Friend Scott ... the church is, among other things, a business with all the problems, conflicts, stresses. Some of us, maybe we're mystics, idealists or just foolish dreamers,need to get away from all that church business craziness and be alone with God and Jesus. I like your translation of Matthew and I find the words of "In the Garden" very comforting. I don't think I'll ever go back to church but God might change my mind about that.

Scott S. Semester said...

Thank you, Clif. Your words mean a lot to me, especially now.

Much appreciated, friend. (You AND your well-timed words are much appreciated.)

Sandi said...

Hey there... I have been thinking of you a lot lately and wanted to send you some good juju... I don't have any good words of wisdom on your post, but personally believe that the best way to be with God is alone - just you and him/her :-) Love you!


Anonymous said...

I can relate. And I'll leave it there. :)