Weekly Devotions for 6/21

Sights and Insights

Devotion for June 21, 2022

I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19 (NRSV)

Today is the summer solstice for us in the Northern Hemisphere. That means it is the longest daylight of the year and first day of summer. The solstice brings to mind life in its fullness and peak strength. It is a time growth, abundance, possibility, and the joys of summertime. We look forward to a time of recharging  and re-energizing. Have you ever noticed how much of this imagery is about powering up? We receive the maximum energy from the sun compared to any other time of the year, and it hits just as many of us feel our energy to be gone. I would say that it seems that many people are feeling this way more strongly than ever this year. The sunny summer becomes a metaphor for the liveliness that we wish we felt.

While the image of being recharged and invigorated by the summer can be helpful, I’m not sure if it is the message that many of us need this year, tempting though it seems. Summer is certainly a time to slow down, but to what end? By thinking of it as a time to recharge and re-energize, summer becomes a bit of a blip, a break from the usual hectic pace of life until we are strong enough to resume the frenetic schedule we had managed before. Yet I must say that I don’t find much joy in that framing. I find it to be too focused on celebrating doing too much. Wouldn’t it be better to take joy in the summer for its own sake?

I prefer to think of summer as a relational season. Too much of the year is focused on getting things done. The heat of the summer traditionally gave reason to slow down and be less focused on accomplishments (I suspect that widespread air conditioning can make us forget this strategy). It is a time for sitting quietly but also for taking time to have a leisurely chat with others. Having more energy is not the goal here. It is, rather, the byproduct of living a more well-rounded life that allows relationships to flourish. If the goal is to accumulate as much energy as possible to get as much done as possible, the result is less joyful and it is actually a counter-productive approach. Simply taking joy in the moment and in the people around us brings us closer to God’s vision of a good life for us, and so actually does more to help us be engaged and effective people when the time comes.

Theologically, our energy comes from being filled by the Holy Spirit, which moves us to follow Christ. In Christ we receive a self-giving and engaging love that moves us forward into the world. This energy moves us, yet it is not about accomplishments. It is about powerful relationships with one another, and through those relationships transforming our world and giving meaning to our life. Yet the point is not the doing, but rather in taking joy in our relationship with the fullness of God. Yet in that relationship we are inevitably empowered to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Such empowerment is far greater than being  re-energized by the sun.