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Sabbath Reflection #4: Rest vs Escapism

What do we choose to do during our leisure time?

Some of us will have some go-to relaxation activities, like sport or reading or a creative hobby of some kind. Others amongst us are so exhausted that our natural reaction after a time of busyness or stress is to just shut down and become passive. There is a difference, however, between activities that recreate and restore us and those that just provide a source of escapism or ‘turning off our brains’.

Escapism can distract us from our worries and allow us to be present in our imaginations for a while, which can be a good thing. What better way to spend a 40-degree summer afternoon than by watching a movie and immersing ourselves into the fictional world of a space conflict or a spy ring or the lives of four young girls from another century? Escapism, however, doesn’t necessarily bring meaningful rest.

Dr Matthew Edlund, a rest and regeneration expert in Florida, states that:

The idea that rest is something that you lie down and ‘do nothing’ is really not how the body operates…The body is always rebuilding itself, but it rebuilds much better if you vary activities. ‘Turn off your brain’ is not really what you want to do. What you want to do is engage your brain elsewhere.[1]

Further, a 2002 study into television addiction found that people often feel worse after extended periods of time in front of screens:

[P]articipants commonly reflect that television has somehow absorbed or sucked out their energy, leaving them depleted. They say they have more difficulty concentrating after viewing than before. In contrast, they rarely indicate such difficulty after reading. After playing sports or engaging in hobbies, people report improvements in mood. After watching TV, people’s moods are about the same or worse than before[2].

We’ve heard what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 many times: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ When we start our time of rest with God (perhaps using some of the ideas from last Wednesday’s Devotion) rather than escapism, we are reminded of who we are in Him.

The unique gifts and abilities God has given us to use as we pursue His mission can also be used to drive the decisions we make about how we rest. Apostles might rest by trying a new activity, while teachers may like to teach some friends how to make a favourite recipe. Introverts will likely want to spend some rest time alone while extroverts will rest by spending time with friends. Kinaesthetic people might rest by being physically active and the visually inclined will enjoy wandering through a gallery.

Who has God made you to be? And what does that mean in terms of the way you will engage with activities that will bring you rest and restoration?

– Kirrily

[1] See:

[2] See:

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Additional Note
What We Believe

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God and inerrant in the original writings. We believe that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

We believe that the lost and sinful man must be saved, and that man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe in and practice the holy ordinance of water baptism, which signifies the believer’s death, burial, and resurrection into new life with Christ Jesus, and the regular celebration of Holy Communion as commanded by our Lord.

We believe in the present ministry and baptism of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the unsaved; those that are saved into the resurrection of life and those that are unsaved into the resurrection of damnation.

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our History

In recognition of the tremendous growth forecast for the Plenty Valley, Bishop Stephen Hale set up a Taskforce in 2007 to investigate the possibility of establishing a new Anglican community in the area. With representation from local churches and Ivanhoe Grammar School, this Taskforce developed a plan that included the need for a point person to further the work. In response to this, two years ago St John’s Diamond Creek took a great step of faith by employing a staff member to not only serve its own congregation but to focus on establishing a new parish for Mernda. Craig spent his first year getting to know the area, building relationships and discerning what God was already up to in His mission of reaching residents and retailers with His love. Throughout the following year a core team began to form around a vision that arose again and again through prayer, of a red gum taking root in the heart of Mernda and growing while the roots reached out to every corner of the community. This vision of being organic church integrally connected to local community found a means of expression through the “Sheffield Model”, which was first developed by St Thomas’s in Sheffield (UK) nearly 15 years ago.

With a focus on “missional communities” the Sheffield model emphasises the need for Christians to meet with people in their own world rather than expecting them to enter ours. After spending time with the staff of St Thomas’s, Craig and the team began work on adapting the model for our own local context and subsequently launched two playgroups in the second half of 2010. A missional community has also begun forming around crafts and the creative arts which runs a stall at the Laurimar market to raise money for various causes. Three preview services were also held as God continued to draw people into the Plentylife community.

We now launch with a much clearer vision of who God wants us to be, a five-strong leadership team with responsibilities for missional communities, youth, families, and administration, and leadership for three missional communities focused on families, crafts and the creative arts and the outdoor life. And it’s true that we wouldn’t be at this point today if it wasn’t for the generous support of the Diocese, St Johns and other supporting churches! So now together we look forward to what else God might have in store for us according to His grace.