Sunday 5 May 2013


A day or two spent afloat on the narrowboat Dalriada is a time to relax and reflect.

The busyness of life for us as a family seems to be a constant, and has rather felt like this since long before service as a church leader. There seems to be so much to do and so little time to do it, whether it's juggling work, family and other commitments. It felt the same when I was working in corporate environments, in the civil service, wherever.

Are we allowed to do nothing, to relax and 'waste' time? I rather feel it is essential that this is exactly what we do. To regard time as such a precious commodity that it cannot be wasted, must always be applied to a useful purpose, is rooted in a rather strong Protestant work ethic. Time is a gift from God, and it must as such be used seriously and purposefully. I recall reading Karl Weber on just this sort of matter, how modern capitalism (and its child, consumerism, that Weber had yet to meet) with a regard for growth as an inherent virtue and workers being subservient to their work, is a distortion of a theology that took this idea of time as God's gift, and also that success in the use of this time is a sign of God's grace.

This idea is deeply rooted in our society, and even consumerism with its subtly crafted calls to individual worth to ensure massive sales of mass produced goods, is a development rather than a deviation from this model of time and worth. Work hard and reward yourself, because you and your success are worth it. God does not figure highly in this, not anymore, although there is some prosperity gospel proclamation in the bigger, shinier churches (who are obviously favoured by God, otherwise why be big and shiny?)

So back to time off, away relaxing. Not as a reward for using time well, because we have been successful or otherwise. Time off to be human, to enjoy simple things, to listen to birdsong and see the wind rippling the waters of the canal, is just as much a good use of God's gift of life and time as is earnest, focused, hard work.

Jesus came that all would have life in all its fullness. And that fullness is in peace, time as family, time to just relax and 'be.'

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