'Relax. Have fun. Enjoy life. Live in Christ' - A Pastoral Note from Jenny

Dear friends, 

“Relax. Have fun. Enjoy life. Live in Christ”

Kennon Callahan 

Many, many years ago I read one of Kennon Callahan’s books prior to starting in a new ministry placement. It is one of my books someone asked to borrow and I haven’t seen it since, so I guess they found it valuable. (It is probably somewhere in South Australia. It had my name in it, so maybe it will return to me one day?) The book was called “A New Beginning for Pastors and Congregations.” At the time I really appreciated the book and what I could learn from it.

In particular, the quote above stood out to me. I mentioned it in my induction service. I wrote it on my office notice board. I signed off all my pastoral letters with it. I made sure it was included in the weekly newsletter. Every opportunity I had for nearly ten years, I reminded the people in the congregation and community to relax, have fun, enjoy life, and live in Christ.

When things got particularly tough, as they inevitably will in any ministry, any placement, any job, any life journey, I found it helpful to recall those words. They became the reminder that I could trust God to carry me through the difficult times — not to make the difficult times easier or go away, but to nurture and sustain me through them.

I want to mention that in no way do I intend for this to be frivolous. For me the reminder to relax, have fun and enjoy life isn’t about partying hard and not taking things seriously. It doesn’t mean that I lay aside my work to lie on the beach and soak up the sun (presumably in a warmer place than here). It’s not about that kind of relaxing and having fun. Instead, it is a reminder to trust God and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain and hold me. And you.

This week has seen anxiety and fear increase within society. Rising numbers of people, especially in Victoria, testing positive for COVID-19 has added extra pressures and stresses as we consider the implications. Victoria has closed its borders and parts of the state are in lockdown. Vulnerable people are increasingly vulnerable. The hint of “a level of freedom to return to regular activities” has been snatched from the grasp of those eagerly reaching out to receive it. And while Victoria is particularly affected in this moment, ‘the rest of Australia’ knows how quickly things can escalate.

The quote above is a reminder in these days of anxiety-bordering-on-hopelessness for us to find the rest that will refresh us, the joy that will sustain us, and the hope that will encourage us, all of which will better equip us to live in Christ. And that is really important, because the live in Christ bit is about how we serve the people whom God has created, named and called to be the children of God (i.e. everyone!). If we are to do this to the best of our capacity, we must also do the former things. Relaxing, having fun and enjoying life does not put ourselves before everyone else. Rather it is our reliance on God as we put the effort into taking care of ourselves so that we fulfil the ministry and mission to which Christ calls us in this time.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, I encourage you to…

“Relax. Have fun. Enjoy life. Live in Christ”

Blessings and peace,