There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “Anglicans are the only people God trusts to take the summer off.” Whether or not God has really given this special dispensation, I can’t say, but it does seem to be the case that when summer rolls around and we take our well-earned rest from school, and work, and many of the other burdens of life, we might also find ourselves taking a break from church. Now, of course there’s nothing wrong with taking a Sunday away from church from time-to-time, and it is often the case that travel and holidays are the occasion for a break from church. Yet, I wonder if we are missing a wonderful opportunity during the summer months and other holiday periods to enrich our experience of church when we find ourselves away from home.
One of the things I really enjoy doing when I am on holidays is visiting other Anglican churches. To attend an unfamiliar church and experience our familiar liturgy can be spiritually enriching. We pray using the familiar words, and yet things are almost always done slightly differently – perhaps a different hymn tune might be used to a favourite hymn, or the priest sings the prayers instead of simply speaking them. We are both away and at home simultaneously. There is enough difference to awaken us and enough similarity to comfort us. And there is always the good new of hope to strengthen us.
Many will be travelling this summer – to cottages, across the country to visit relatives or tour this great nation, or perhaps even around the world – and there is open before us a great opportunity to use the time away from your own parish to connect with the local parish in communities where you are staying, or passing through.
Sometimes when people say to me, “I haven’t been to church in a while,” I like to respond jokingly, “we have over 2700 locations Canada-wide and we’re open every Sunday!” It’s true, and many churches, particularly those in cottage country and tourist locations, are just ramping up their programming as suburban and urban churches are winding down their programming for the summer. In cottage country there are wonderful services offered every Sunday in churches (some of which are only open in the summer), and there are dinners, and pancake breakfasts, and country fairs, and bible studies, and prayer meetings, and fellowship events, and wonderful people waiting with open arms to welcome visitors.
I strongly encourage you to visit the local Anglican Church wherever your journeys take you this summer. Not only is it a wonderful way to continue to nurture and recharge your faith as you take some well-earned vacation time, it is a wonderful opportunity to meet other Anglicans in the communities we find ourselves travelling through. If you are passing through, it can be a wonderful moment of spiritual grounding; if you are a seasonal regular in a vacation spot, it can be an opportunity to make some lasting local connections with local people and fellow travellers. And finally, it can be an opportunity for you to invite others to visit with us when they find themselves travelling through our neck of the woods.
We are part of a great and wonderful Anglican Church. Don’t be afraid to explore it this summer!