A lot of folks think of religious ethics as about a long list of "don'ts", especially things we suspect we should feel bad about even before we start reading the list. It may be a childish view of faith, and it's surprisingly hard to shake.
I want to share a different point of view. In a passage of the Talmud, we read that "You will one day give reckoning for everything you were permitted that you did not enjoy".
What's arresting about this quote is the realization that we're really standing in judgment of God when we don't embrace the many good things God offers us. Things that are good for us, things that God enjoyed creating, things that would make our creator happy for us to appreciate and accept.
Who can blame us? We live in a world whose theology of pleasure is completely confused, and driven by corporate needs over human needs.
May I humbly offer some suggestions that might help? A sort of "spiritual practice of summertime fun", if you will?
Summer starts at Grace Church immediately at the conclusion of our Pentecost service this Sunday. That's right, it's the end of program-year picnic. Even if you have a busy Sunday planned, stop after church for a picnic lunch and conversation with friends, old or new.
The week after that, services start at 9:30 and are more casual than during the program year. Please make a point of throwing on some sneakers and joining as often as you're in town. Generous volunteers even serve breakfast before church... try coming at 8:30 at least one Sunday morning and see if that isn't better than cooking a nice meal for yourself. It's a good time for families, singles or couples. I mean, we're talking about breakfast. Then singing. Free of charge, it's the summer's best deal.
Not enough? We hear you! Grace throws barbecues over the summer. We gather at 6:00pm on the last two Thursdays in July and the first two in August. Put it on your calendar and come after work. Look for an email reminder in July. Try one of the earlier barbecues, you just might find you want to come to all four.
Wherever you find yourself, take pleasure in every permissible thing, and bring that sense of joy right back to Grace as often as you can.