My vacation in Barbados last year drew my attention to the importance of water, or should I say beaches. The beautiful, clear-white sand beaches, superb restaurants and resorts of Barbados attract vacationers. The little island of Barbados is not only grateful for the presence of visitors to boost its tourism industry, but summer gives churches the opportunity to welcome and experience larger congregations than usual.
My experience of whale watching near Cheticamp on Cape Breton Island, as well as the low and high tides of the Bay of Fundy, revealed the beauty of creation. On my tour of the Maritimes, I relished my encounter with creation. What about the Rocky Mountains, the ice cave of Jasper, the fossils of Drumheller and the Hoodoos of Banff?
At creation, Genesis 1 wants us to believe God was a master worker who delighted in the beauty and goodness of what he created. Everything he created he saw to be good, and he blessed it.
Among his creations are the waters, separated into oceans and seas, with beaches as guarantors that there will never be an ultimate deluge – the scenery must have been and continues to be gorgeous. Of course, the human person, the crown of creation, has something to savour, thanks to the Creator God.
God went on vacation after creation – he rested (Genesis 2.3). God's rest is the forerunner of human vacation. The pride we take in our work and the services we render to one another are at the origin of the contemplation of the beauty of creation, since God made humans the custodians of creation (Genesis 1.28).
The "rest" of God, in Genesis, is when God takes a backseat and allows human beings into the driver's seat. Creation has been entrusted to human beings as a way, not only to come into contact with God, but also to contemplate and worship him.
Matthew 11.28 runs thus: "Come to me, all you that are tired from work and are carrying heavy burdens of fatigue, and I will give you rest." The rest guaranteed by God, in Christ, is for mind, body and spirit. The Creator knows his creatures better than anyone. The rest of God and human vacations are opportunities to return to God for servicing and a checkup.
Indeed, vacations and rest periods are incomplete without a visit to commune with God in a worship assembly, and by partaking in communion from a Eucharistic banquet. Free food, when given by God, should not be refused, since God does not refuse a free lunch to the hungry.
What is a vacation without food, a few drinks and a party with friends and family? The Eucharistic banquet trumps them all because we celebrate it on earth, and we shall continue it in heaven.
To spend the summer with God is to seek the "rest" of God, an eternal rest. To believe in a Creator God – "I believe in God . . . Creator of heaven and earth," according to the Creed, is to be able to transcend creation to the Creator – creation reveals and grants access to the Creator.
Vacation is the space opened up for an encounter with the God we labour for and with; the God who guarantees our well-being, while we rest. The whole world is his domain; the Eucharistic assembly is his open invitation party, and Communion his free lunch.
Can we sing the song of creation, with the psalmist, in praise of the Creator? "Bless the Lord, all his works . . . Bless the Lord, O my soul . . . O Lord my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honour and majesty, wrapped in light as with a garment.
"You stretch out the heavens like a tent, you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, you make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind, you make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers. You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken. . . .
"You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills. . . . O Lord, how manifold are your works. In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures" (103.22-104.1-25).
Spiritan Father Ayodele Ayeni is a sessional lecturer at Newman Theological College and pastor of Mary Help of Christians (Chinese) Parish in Edmonton.