Faith Matters: Jesus took a summer break, too

  • Pastor Rob Gormbley of The First Congregational Church of Shelburne. Staff photo/Paul Franz

  • Pastor Rob Gormbley of The First Congregational Church of Shelburne. Staff photo/Paul Franz

  • The First Congregational Church of Shelburne. Staff photo/Paul Franz

Interim Pastor, First Congregational Church of Shelburne, UCC
Published: 6/4/2021 7:27:01 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email

Jacob Gallagher recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “with about half of Americans one vaccine dose in, folks are again trickling back to gyms, offices and corner bars. Our social calendars, barren through much of 2020, are beginning to fill up with weddings, vacations and face-to-face meetings. For months, sports teams have been steadily upping their attendance numbers and the scene at airports might best capture the renewed frenzy of American life. On May 25, over 1.4 million travelers passed through TSA checkpoints. That figure a year ago? Just 264,843. And life is only going to get busier from here.” We are on the doorstep of summer 2021, it’s a new world — a different world than 2019 — and light years in contrast from 2020.

In the Gospel according to Matthew, there is a narrative of Jesus’ trip to the beach. A.D. 29 had proven to be a busy year for Jesus of Nazareth. He had called his disciples and started his ministry in Galilee. Crowds had followed him and as his fame spread, so did the opposition against him. Come summer, it was time for a break. So, Jesus and his disciples packed up and headed east, to the district of Sidon and Tyre. These fabled cities were outside of Galilee on the coast of the Mediterranean.

Everyone needs a break now and then from the rigors and challenges of work and daily routines. This summer, that is as big an understatement as noting that COVID-19 has changed a few things.

Summer used to be a time to get away rather than having time to be away with nowhere to go. Jesus and his disciples went to the beach to get away from the pressures of his mission. Perhaps you, too, go to the beach, or the mountains, or the lake, or into Boston. Perhaps you grab onto a moment of detachment with family, friends or on your own, or perhaps you have that longed-for the opportunity of an extended vacation. Regardless of how you do it, taking a break from daily living is an important part of selfcare that has been difficult to come by over the last year. Even when we took a road trip, there was always that nagging fear of coming home and discovering we brought the virus with us.

If you read the story of Jesus in the district of Tyre and Sidon, you will note that even at the beach, his ministry followed him. While he and his disciples do not seem pleased at being interrupted, Jesus does tend to the needs that the Canaanite woman brought to him. The reality is that even when we are away, God is not. Even when we could not get away, the peace and power of prayer was accessible to us.

I hope you can find time away this summer and feel that forgotten sense of safety when you do. I hope you can enjoy, once again, some relaxation and discover some peace. If you happen to find yourself on the beach, remember that you are in good company.

May God go with you, wherever you may roam,

About the church

The First Congregational Church of Shelburne is a United Church of Christ congregation whose mission is to be God’s hands on earth, united in the spirit of God, honoring our past, embracing the present and celebrating the future. We are a fellowship, a caring community, who prays, shares and welcomes. After a season of worship by YouTube, worship is again being offered in person every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. We have a safety protocol that includes limited seating to keep distance, a mask requirement, with reservations required by contacting Diantha Wholey at Our child and youth ministries as well as our music ministries have not reopened. Our mission ministry is up and running, serving and the community. For more information, go to our web page at


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