Rev. Moon’s message for July 24, 2022

Dear Friends,

Henri Nouwen writes:

It is important to know when we should give attention and when we need attention. Often, we are inclined to give, give, and give without asking anything in return. We may think that this is a sign of generosity or even heroism. But it might be little more than a proud attitude that says, “I don’t need help from others. I only want to give.” When we keep giving without receiving, we burn out quickly. Only when we pay careful attention to our own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs can we be, and remain, joyful givers. There is a time to give and a time to receive. We need equal time for both if we want to live healthy lives.

“The Return of the Prodigal Son” (ca. 1668) by Rembrandt (1606–1669). From the collection of the Hermitage Museum; taken from the Wikimedia Commons. Henri Nouwen wrote a book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, based on the painting.

I will be taking a vacation between July 25–August 29. I hope that my vacation will allow my emotion, body, mind, and spirit to rest and relax. I have learned the hard way in my ministry that when I don’t look after myself well, everything else suffers as well, and it takes time for our emotions and mind to relax and recover. It usually takes two to three weeks for my mind to stop thinking about what I have to write next, and two to three weeks for my emotion to stop feeling the pressure of always being available for others. I find it takes time to let go and forgive myself for the things I could have done better or things that didn’t go well. Of course, I hope to spend time with my immediate family, visit my extended family, and deepen joy in my life.

In the early stage of ministry, I was hesitant and even afraid of taking a vacation. I wasn’t sure whether my pride, guilt, insecurity, or a little bit of everything made me feel uneasy about taking time for myself or spending time away from ministry. Probably my theology back then did not help, either. “How could I rest when God is working?”

I have learned to accept that I am one person, and I am not here to replace God or to produce the love of God but to celebrate the love of God we receive from God. Christ died on the cross so we could live, not for us to remain under the cross. There are still many days I struggle to take time for myself, but I am working on it. I am sure many of you are working on it as well.

I would like to ask for your prayers for my family and me during my time away.

—Rev. Chuck Moon

A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, July 23, 2022, edition of Tidbits.