Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sunday Message

Hello Friends
Last Tuesday my MOM took a little stroll through one of our favorite spots.  I was not with her.  I was still recovering from our adventure the Saturday before.  As much as MOM and I would like to think I am super dog, the fact is I am 14 and a half and it takes me a couple of days to feel 100% again.  And that is OK.  And besides if you know me at all you know I do not like being out in the rain, and it was raining on MOM’s walk without me.  So the photo I will share with you are of her on a mountain side.

Do you know who is the worst vacationers in the world?  The peeps in the US.  US citizens are #1 in NOT taking vacation.

In the US, if you work for a large corporation for twenty-five YEARS, you finally earn twenty-five days of vacation per year. But in 2012, the average “vacation” length for an employee was 4.3 days. For workers who have earned that 25 days on average only 12 days were taken.

And what do 21st century Americans DO on their tiny, short-sheeted vacations?  They bring cell phones, lap-tops, and homework with them.  They continue to “check in” with the office, co-workers, and employees, for at least an hour a day.  That’s right.  During hard-earned “vacation,” they never really vacated the office.  They are never truly “unplugged.”  They never truly have “down time.”  I think that is crazy.  People need downtime.  Sabbath time.  Vacation time.

Jesus took “vacations.” His “vacations” were not to some scenic getaways or luxurious resorts.  Instead Jesus took his “vacations” by going to “deserted places”, out-of-the-way locations, far-away destinations, intentionally distant from the pressing crowds that pursued him and the paparazzi types that even back then asserted themselves into his personal space each and every day.

In Matthew 14:13-21 Jesus set out for some vacation time.  He had set out to find some solace and some solitude.  Some time to be alone and at one with his Father.  But it was not to be. Instead Jesus found that his “fans” had followed him.  And instead of having an “evening off,” Jesus seized a window of opportunity to show a great crowd of people the awesome power of God.

Instead of an evening of “walking the garden with God,” which is a Genesis way of talking about prayer, Jesus spent his evening feeding a crowd of five thousand.  But his healing was just another form of “walking the garden with God.”

Throughout his preaching life Jesus regularly trooped out beyond the bounds of “civilization” and sought out the singularity of a private conversation with his Father.  Jesus’ inner craving was not for Pizza Hut or Taco Bell. Jesus craved intimate, one-on-one prayer-time with God. Walking the garden with God was Jesus’ “vacation.”  But when he was walking anywhere, it was still a form of walking the garden with God. And Jesus did a lot of walking.

Jesus is the best example we can follow for our “vacation” selves. Jesus periodically, and very intentionally, came “apart” from his everyday life, so that he might not come “apart” from his everyday commitments. Jesus was intentional about taking time to take a time out. One of the reasons he was not legalistic about the Sabbath as a day was because he found Sabbath time every time.  When he told his disciples to “consider the lilies of the field” (Luke 12:27), he was declaring to his disciples “Sabbath Time-Out” — let’s pause to pay attention to God’s creativity.

When Jesus took “a vacation,” it was his attempt to reconnect in prayer and recharge in spirit more completely with his Father. Every time Jesus “took off” it was in order to “take off” more powerfully when he returned.  Jesus’ “vacations were not about being “different” from his usual self. Jesus’ “vacations” were about him embracing fully his identity and holding dear his most significant self.

In Matthew 14:13-21 the crowds follow him. They beat him to his “deserted place,” so it’s now a congested place, not deserted place.  Instead of privacy Jesus has five thousand needy, hungry, hurting followers who are waiting for him when he arrives at his vacation spot. And Jesus could not ignore either the spiritual or physical needs of those who sought him out and sought his care.

Jesus stood before a crowd of 5000 and declared to his disciples that five cheap loaves of bread and two stinky little fish would do.  He had no qualms, no doubts.  His private prayer “vacation” was taken over completely by his life’s “vocation.” And as Jesus prayed over those paltry offerings of fish and bread, his “vocation” fulfilled his “vacation.” Jesus “answered his cell phone” on his “vacation” because his mission, his meaning, and his moments, were all one.

The feeding of the five thousand can be interpreted two ways. First, Jesus tries to get away, everyone finds him, he works all day healing, and then has to miraculously provide food for everyone come evening. Some “vacation.”

But there is another way of interpreting this story — as an illustration of Jesus’ life, which always maintained a harmony between what he was doing and who he was.  Jesus knew the answer to both parts of that equation. He knew what he was on earth to do; he knew the exacting demands of his earthly ministry.  But he also knew his unique divine identity, and on the strength of that identity he integrated with integrity everything that happened into his mission.  Jesus lived a life where his vocation and his vacation were one. We can too.

In one “Peanuts” cartoon little Lucy says to her baby brother, Linus, “I’ll tell you something I’ve never told anyone before. Do you see that hill over there?  Someday I’m going over that hill and find the answer to my dreams.  Someday I’m going over that hill and find happiness and fulfillment.  For me, all the answers to my life lie beyond those clouds and over the grassy sides of those hills.”

Linus removes his thumb from his mouth, points toward the hill and says, “Perhaps there’s another little kid on the other side of the hill who is looking this way and thinks that all the answers lie on this side of the hill.”  Lucy thinks that one over for a long moment, then turns toward the hill and screams, “Forget it, kid!!!”

We are looking for help on the other side of the hill.  We think if we can only get away from our side of the hill and get over the mountain to the other side of the hill . . . everything will be better.

But the answers are not over the hill; our problems are not solved by escaping our side of the hill.  There is nothing wrong with going over the hill and getting away.  But the answers are found when we do not escape but engage; when our vocation and vacation become one.

The answers are on the hill: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills; from whence does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord” (Psalm 121).  The answers are on the hill: “On a hill far away, stood an old Rugged Cross, the emblem of suffering and shame.”

And because of that hill, God is with you whether you’re in the valley, or on the mountain top. Whether you’re in the desert, at the seashore, or on the mountains.  Whether you’re in a cubicle at work or a car going home. Because of that hill, your vocation and your vacation can be one.



  1. What a wonderful, thoughtful sermon for today. Thank you for sharing. Your photos are amazing...but I think I like that last one best!

  2. Pawsome message and beeyootiful pictures.

  3. Nice one Goose. We think holidays are important to re-connect with nature and yes laptops etc should be left behind. Lovely pix as always. Have a serene Sunday and let us all partake of some big easy today.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. Goose, after all this beauty your mom found in the rain, she should be truly connected with God... what mom did is my idea of a vacation...

  5. Hari Om
    Mission, Meaning, Moment. Marvellous.

    Oh, and butt!!!! Love 'em. Breathing deeply here... Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

  6. Oh Goose, your Mom wrote such a wonderful post today. She really says things so well and so easy to understand. But I bet she was lonely without you on that walk. The pictures were fantastic. Were those some wild goats?? Our Mom really enjoyed that today. Take good care.

  7. Crikey Goose ... Thankyou! That was some message. Such beautiful photos ... Nature truly captured, aye?

  8. Bro, I so agree with you... why some people (yes, like you, dad!) can't enjoy a silent day without phones and notebooks? You can't hear the sound of silence with a cell phone on your ear and you can't feel freedom while typing short messages with your thumb... I love your photos, specially the diving duck is pretty cool. It's ok to need some rest after a long hike, I always need a howliday too after a good adventure and I'm four... and to go out while it rains dogs&cats is anyway a no-go for me... literally a no-GO . Thanks for a wonderful post!

  9. Goose my handsome live in the most beautiful state! We are glad mom took the stroll and glad you had a good rest! Lots of hugs
    Madi your bfff

  10. Beautiful pictures and a great message.

  11. The message today matches the beautiful pictures.

    We truly understand the need to Rest and Recuperate after a BIG outing like you had last week. Take it easy and use the time to reflect on the BEAUTY of our world my furend. SAVOR the MOMENT...

  12. PeeS.... we furgot to tell you this.... Our Milkbone shrub is SAFE and sound.... we planted it Close to the house this year... and it is THRIVING and Pawducing a Bumper crop.

  13. WE had a really nice comment but it eraised it. We are not happy with our internet but very happy that we can at least read your posts Hope this comment comes through.

  14. Hey Goose! Thank your mom for the beeautifu vacation this mornining!!

    Bart, Ruby and Otto

  15. Oh Goose, I LOVED the sermon today!! Such an important message, and what FABulous pictures to go with it! Butts, I'm with you Goose...I don't likes the rain either!
    Butts I love that pic of you lookin' all happy and rested!
    Ruby ♥

  16. This is a good sermon Goose. Did you write it while your mom was out playing?

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  17. What a beautiful post. Are you really 14?
    Lily & Edward

  18. We really do need to slow down in North America and enjoy don't we? You made us think of the Cadillac commercial that implies not vacationing is good. We are lucky, our man gets 22 days per year, plus the 11 stat holidays. Lady works for herself, but always takes at least 2 weeks in the summer and usually another few throughout the year. By the end of the year she will have taken 6 weeks of vacation. Thanks for the reminder!

  19. Hi Goose

    My name is Cookie and I am a lab/sharpe mix/. I came to live with mum after Cody went to the Rainbow Bridge about 10 days ago. We are still getting used to each other and I know she misses Cody. I came here Monday afternoon, and took off when she was coming into apt Monday evening (my bad). Fortunately all the gates to the complex were locked and some lovely neighbors found me and took me home!! I have not done that again -- I know my mum is getting used to me and I am getting used to her!!! Yesterday I actually got on the bed with her and watched some TV!! Anyway, we did not read blogs for a couple of days (I guess mum is still grieving a bit for Cody), but we are trying to catch up and LOVED today's post. You do not look like you are 14 -- you do not look a day over 8!! Now that mum is retired, she is on "vacation" all the time. She does not always like it because she gets bored, but posts like yours really lift her. sorry this is so long.

    Take care Goosie

    Luv from Cookie in Tucson

  20. The photos are absolutely beautiful and the words are great food for thought. Thank you for sharing your "vacation" with all of us.

  21. Goose, tell your MOM that this one is for the book. She knows what we mean. The reflection about the way(s) we embrace vacations and the way Jesus did left us seeing beautiful. The "walk through the clouds" ;) was beautiful too!

  22. That was a beautiful walk. We all need to slow down and think bout things.
    Thanks for sharing and hope your feeling better.


  23. Oh, Goose! Your MOM's photos were beautiful - and the message even more so! Thank you for sharing it.
    PS: Is it ok if the highlight for me was the photo of you!?!!?

  24. HI Y'all!

    So glad I had a few minutes to catch up with y'all. I love the sermon and the photos are amazing.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawkaka BrownDog