This month.....

In the blink of an eye, the six weeks school summer holiday have drawn to a close and, even if we’re not involved in the routine of the school year, nearly all of us experience the slightly slower pace of August, where clubs and activities stop for a month.

For some that means holidays from school and college, for others that means holidays away, some might enjoy being on grandparenting duty or simply looking after youngsters; whilst parents and carers continue with their jobs. Whatever the situation, the summer holidays usually spell movement of some sort or another. I hope that these weeks will have been a time of refreshment and rejuvenation for you all.

ABTA is the UK’s largest travel association, representing travel agents and tour operators and they state that over 60 million people travel from the UK each year for holidays or business reasons. That is a lot of people on the move!

The UK Office for National Statistics conducted a survey called the International Passenger Survey in 1996 and 2016 to look at changes in our travel habits between the 1990s and now. During this 20-year study, the results found that the British public are now going on more holidays than ever before!

The travel industry has also noted a significant rise in staycations in recent years, searches and bookings for holidaying in the UK have increased by almost a quarter compared to 2016. No surprise really that, a city on our doorstep, Bath, has seen a 542% increase in tourism. It has always been an exceedingly popular city to visit, but that’s still an incredible rise in visitors in recent years.

 

Having a time when our activities are slightly less also gives us time to attend to our own needs. Too much busy-ness can mean that we neglect our inner life, the life of the Spirit. The summer break can be a time to recapture that lost time, to just stopping doing for a while so we can refocus on being.

 

Continually Jesus withdrew from people, daily life activities, and the demands of his ministry to be alone with his Father and pray. Jesus’ solitude and silence are a major theme in the Gospels. The priority of Jesus’ solitude and silence is everywhere. The writer of Mark’s gospel is breathless with enthusiasm to share the Good News of Jesus and his ministry, but repeatedly, he pauses to give us glimpses into Jesus’ solitude and silence with God the Father. Let us to take time to pause and be, whether in the summer months or at other times of the year.

 

As well as January being a well-known month for new beginnings so is September. As the new academic year begins, up and down the country children will be starting school or college for the first time. Additionally, many more will be in new year groups and classes. The teaching staff face a new year with all the challenges and targets that it will bring. Each new school year brings new and exciting opportunities for many as well as new challenges to conquer. So, it’s a time for looking to the future with hope and anticipation as well as some level of apprehension.

It is not only for people connected with the education sector that this sense of newness and looking forward is relevant. In our lives, we all have times when there is a very clear sense of things changing and moving on.

At the centre of the Christian faith, is the message that God is not only the unchanging God that we sometimes refer to in some of our older hymns. He is also a God who is forever demonstrating new ways of entering into relationship. Our God is a God of change as well as a God of constancy.

As we look forward with a sense of anticipation to the Autumn, I hope we will discover God in the most unlikely of places and that we will continue to be surprised that he travels with us in all of our experiences.

With every blessing

Joanna