Behind my desk is a reproduction of a famous icon by Andrei Rublev called the Hospitality of Abraham. It depicts the three visitors to Abraham and Sarah, as told in Genesis 18. Christian tradition has long seen in this ancient story an image of the Holy Trinity, one God in three persons; it expresses the fundamentally relational nature of God. Within the very heart of God is an eternal giving and receiving of love. Abraham experiences this when he reaches out in hospitality to three strangers on the road. In that spiritual embrace of the Other he discovers blessing: the promise renewed. By keeping that image close to my desk I hope to remind myself and others that all ministry is hospitality.
As come to the end of the church programming season I begin to think of another form of hospitality that becomes important to many of us in July and August: Sabbath. Holidays.
Holidays are literally “holy days.” They are times of rest, relaxation and renewal. We might travel to another place where life holds fewer distractions. We might take time for activities that feed our souls, that we don’t get to do as much while we’re working. We often find ways to commune with nature in beautiful outdoor places. We might take advantage of the time to renovate our houses or beautify our lives. On our holidays we like to find special ways to spend time with friends and family members.
All the various things we like to do in our holidays are holy activities. Holy because they help us build relationships. Holy because through them we honour our creator. Holy because they renew our souls. To holiday (as a verb) is to set aside a certain period of time as holy and reserved for holy activities. It is very much like what the Bible calls “keeping the Sabbath.”
Holidaying is a form of hospitality… to one’s self. As we take time to re-create and renew our souls we offer hospitality to that part of our selves that can sometimes be forgotten in the midst of the other demands of work and life. We make a space for our own hearts and souls so they can be refreshed by the things that make for the abundant life.
May your summer be filled with holy days of recreation and renewal, and may you be built up in the love of the Holy Trinity, one God who has welcomed us into abundant life.