Next week is Memorial weekend and summer is here. What do you have planned?
    In previous cultures, summertime was a time of hard work and production. Schools break for summer even today because in the old days, families needed their kids at home when farm chores were especially work intensive (that and the hot days with no air conditioning made school unpleasant). But as we have become less and less dependent on the family farm for our economic well-being, summers have shifted to family vacation time.
    If you have school age kids, I hope you get a break this summer. (If you don’t, you may enjoy vacation more during an off-peak season.) Getting at least an annual break from work and responsibilities at home is healthy. Moses built it into The Law for God’s people to take out-of-town breaks for family time, fellowship, and worship. So schedule some kind of a vacation away from home. It’s healthy!
    But can I make a couple of helpful suggestions?
    First, don’t take a vacation from corporate worship. Ya, I know, I’m a pastor and you’d expect me to say that. But would you expect to hear anything different from Yahweh, Himself? You know, the God who required Israel to worship together on The Sabbath, instituted the feasts for celebration, time off, AND corporate worship, and said, “Do not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing” (Hebrews 10:25). Summertime is not only a great time to worship with your brothers and sisters at home, but also away. It is a wonderful blessing to meet and worship with fellow Christ-followers with whom we will eventually spend eternity. So when on vacation, go to church!
    Second don’t leave your Bridge family stranded! We need you helping with the family chores in the summer more than ever. Summer is a time when our work expands. Among other things, we will have a number of community outreach projects, VBS, the July 4th parade, etc. Some of our Solid Ground workers give of their time every single week through the year and deserve a summer break (especially those with school-age kids). So for those who have not yet taken on a ministry, this is a good time to explore. By filling in Solid Ground for the summer, you can see if that is a good fit for you, without having to make a long term commitment.
    Third, this is a good time to show that your giving is not just a “pay-as-you-go” thing, as though going to church is like going to a ball game (you only “pay” if you are there). Going to church is not going to a show. We are a family, and our needs do not drop during the summer. Actually, they increase. So if you have not yet started giving based on a percentage of your income, and doing so regularly (1 Corinthians 16:2) regardless of your attendance, this summer is a good time to start. Giving online or through our new app is a good way to do that. You can even set it up to automatically deduct from your bank account as often as you like, the same as you do for many of your bills.
    Finally, make the most out of church and community relationships, and combine the two for outreach. Host a backyard cookout or two and invite both neighbors and church friends. Be creative with your Life Group and have some summer fun together (i.e. Cubs game, biking the River Trail, Lake Michigan beach, zoo, etc.). The value of a break, in a big way, lies in our fellowship with those who refresh us and our taking opportunity to reach out to others. That was what the Old Testament Feasts were all about.
    So have a great summer! And the way to do that as in all things in our lives, is to keep God at center, letting everything else flow from Him.

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