Dear parishioners and friends,
Nowadays, many people are fortunate to be able to take holiday breaks increasingly often. Possibly at weekends, midweek, winter, spring or autumn, as well as during the peak summer period. Although it can still sometimes be hard to make ends meet, generally our society is more affluent than it used to be. Outside of the peak summer season in July and August, holidays can be less expensive and are usually quieter. For families with children still at school, though, holidays in term time are discouraged. Controversially, those families taking holidays then are now also faced with a financial penalty if their children miss lessons in term time for that reason.
When the film Summer Holiday was released in the early 1960s (starring Cliff Richard and featuring that famous hit song), most people only took holidays in the summer. Foreign travel, like the film’s jaunt to Greece in a London bus, was still quite a novelty then. During the years of post-war austerity, most families enjoyed simple UK holidays, often by the seaside. Many people still tell me how much they enjoyed those summer holidays and locations. Often with their own family traditions, they are still fondly remembered, even decades later. They certainly are in our family too.
That time spent together in delightful settings, often revisited year after year, ideally provided time to relax, play, walk, talk and eat together. Time for outings, games, treats, fresh air and other simple pleasures. On the other hand, you can’t please all the people all the time. I recall one family telling me how much (as children), they disliked the ‘ABC holidays’ that their father took them on. “Was that the name of the holiday company?” I innocently asked. “Oh no! (they smiled). It meant ‘Another Blooming Castle!!’ ”
If you go on a summer holiday this year, I hope you will find it really enjoyable and refreshing. The Biblical principle of the Sabbath break is not just about seeing one day as special, but can also be applied to holidays (holy days) and other times of rest, relaxation and refreshment too. These were designed and provided, Jesus explains in Mark’s Gospel, for the good of mankind.
So do make the most of your holiday this year, as an opportunity to stop, to look, to enjoy, to explore and to savour the many good things God has given us in this beautiful universe. Rest, be thankful, enjoy yourselves and why not say a simple thank you to Him too?
Rev Fred Olney.