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In this week’s Gospel we read that Jesus went to the districts of Tyre and Sidon. To us, they are merely names of obscure places in the Bible; but in Scripture, location is important. 

This is the only occasion in his ministry when Jesus was ever outside of Palestine and outside of Jewish territory. If you look up Tyre and Sidon on a map of the world at the time of Jesus, you will discover that they are beautiful locations on the Mediterranean Sea. 

The inviting waters of the Mediterranean, crystal clear and azure in colour, tempt visitors to cool down with a plunge after the heat of the day. Or to sit and gaze and ponder the sublime. So, there is Jesus with his disciples on a retreat, or perhaps you could say a mini-vacation. (I’ll bet you never imagined our Lord on vacation at a seaside resort.) I wonder whether he needed a bit of calm, a bit of peace and quiet far from the madding crowd, because in Mark 7:24 we read that “he did not want anyone to know he was there.”

I have just come back from a two-week vacation to a certain city in Saskatchewan. I had such a good time and I asked that Ania, who helps me in the office, not disclose where I was. 

It’s not that I don’t love you; I just needed a bit of a break. Too bad that we live in a time so different from those days of our Lord—we are all contactable 24/7 and there is no escape. Seth has been on holiday also. And I was the one who contacted him while he was away! I forgot that he and his family were on vacation. 

We all need time to refresh so that we don’t become stale, or empty, or live without enthusiasm. It doesn’t need to be to a seaside resort; it can be a staycation but it does need to be a break from the pressures of our life.

When Jesus had finished his vacation he was ready to tackle the world (literally) and bring healing, hope and victory. 

I think Seth is ready to carry on his ministry (in Banff) with enthusiasm, and I am ready to retire. So in September it will all change for the congregations in Banff and Canmore. 

This Sunday, you can celebrate Seth’s time with the people of St. Michael’s as he leads us in worshipping God, thinking about God’s word, and remembering Jesus giving his life so that you and I might live also. 

And of course with Seth in Canmore, I will be in Banff for the last time, as I celebrate God’s goodness, grace and mercy, the power of the Holy Spirit and the sharing of the Bread and Wine. I hope you will join us for our regular Sunday services in Banff and Canmore. God bless you all.

Howard +