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Before I begin let me share that last week a few of you were interviewed about your
memories of what you loved to play as a kid.
Opening video
Our memories of playing games in the summer are some of the most powerful memories
well ever have. There is something practically spiritual about remembering when we played
ball in the park, or rode our bike through town, or swam in the lake. These memories put a smile
on our face and remind us that life is good. Were refreshed.
As followers of Jesus Christ its worth reflecting on how we can be refreshed. Thats
what were doing this summer in a series called, Refresh. The AIM of this series is to help us
experience refreshment in a spiritual way AND to look at certain practices that can help us be
This series has a Minnesota context. All year we look forward to summer. Its a season
where we enjoy late sunsets and supposedly a more relaxed pace. Unfortunately we can pack so
much into summer that by the time Labor Day comes we are exhausted. We need to get back
into our non-summer routine to be released from our overscheduled summer.
In this series were looking at specific spiritual practices that can help us be refreshed all
year round. These topics arent necessarily religiousbut they can lead us to experience God so
they are spiritual.
Each Wednesday we are having an Add-on to the topic. Tonights Add-on is playing
kickball on the church property after worship. After each sermon well also have a time when
we can talk about the topic of the night and have time for questions and answers.
Tonight were looking at recreation and play. As part of that we did some video
interviews asking folks from Chain of Lakes some of their memories of playing in the summer.

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Isnt that great what Karen Bakia said at the end of that clip. You have no idea how
much fun we had. She grew up in the Cameroon where kids didnt have many of the luxuries
that kids in the United States had. But they played.
Im guessing that a lot of us had parents who encouraged us to get outdoors. If you are
like me if we spent too much time inside and we started getting on the nerves of our parents, our
parents would tell us, Go outside and _____. Go outside and play. We werent told what to
dowe had to figure it out ourselves. And so we did.
When I was growing up we had an empty lot near the house where I lived on Summit
Avenue in Worthington, Minnesota. We would spend a lot of time playing baseball on that lot
during the summer. We didnt have an adult there telling us what to do. We would get together,
pick teams and start playing ball. We kept score, but no one really remembered who won. The
activity was all about playing. Having fun.

One more video clip.

Dont you love what Jason said at the end of that clip. Were ride our bikes all over
town. How much fun was that!
In our structured world were losing this sense of unorganized play. Today we put kids
into summer sports leagues where they can develop their skills. Our kids are much more
developed in their athletic skills compared to the athletic skills of kids 30 years ago. I wonder if
weve lost something in being so structured and programmed. I wonder if were losing the
experience of non-competitive play.

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In this world of structure its almost as if were afraid to be bored. We dont give our
kids opportunities to be bored. A lot of creativity can come from boredom. What were losing
from structure is this sense of figuring out how to play.
The art of play or recreations help us become the full person God calls us to be. The
word, recreation hints at the newness we can experience when we play. If we pronounce the
first e in recreation as a long e we have recreation. The word recreation comes from the
Latin word recreationem It is a noun of action. It means to refresh, restore, make anew,
revive, invigorate. It has this sense of growth, of being on a journey that is moving towards
something. This is spiritual as experiencing newness is what the Holy Spirit does with us. The
Holy Spirit is always working within us to lead us to a new place.
Recreation or play is an activity that can lead to recreation. What happens in recreation is
similar to what happens when we worship. For a moment were transported to a different place.
Say were involved in a kickball game like were going to play after worship tonight. When
were focused on who is kicking the ball, or we start laughing when something inevitably
happens, or we celebrate when someone makes a good play we enter a different place. Its
almost as if enter a different realm. Were not thinking of the pressures of life. Were just
having fun. We enter back into life at a different place. Were not as weighed down. We have a
new spirit. We are refreshed.

Stuart Brown has studied play from a scientific perspective his entire life. He

created the National Institute of Play. He looked at what happens to us when we dont play.
On his web sitewww.nifplay.org shared the story of Charles Whitman. Charles Whitman was
an engineering student at the University of Texas. On August 1, 1966 he climbed a tower in
Austin, Texas and started randomly shooting people. Charles Whitman climbed to the 28th story

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of an observation tower in Austin Texas with a rifle and started shooting people. He ended up
killing 16 peoplehot and killed 17 people. This happened in 1966 and was one of the first mass
murders that are now becoming much more common place.
John Connelly, who was then governor of Texas, assembled an expert team to try to learn
why Charles Whitman did this. They discovered that Charles Whitman had been raised in a
tyrannical, abusive household. His natural playfulness had been suppressed by an overbearing
father. The committee concluded that lack of play or recreation was a key factor that ultimately
led to Whitmans actions. They believed that if Whitman had experienced regular moments of
spontaneous play during his life he would have developed the skill, flexibility, and strength to
cope with the stressful situations that he had encountered.
A neighbor who had grown up with Charles Whitman said that he had always wondered
why Charles Whitman wouldnt come over and play. This neighbor said that they would climb
the trees in the backyard, but Charles Whitman wasnt allowed to play. He wasnt allowed to
have friends come over to play at his house.
Stuart Brown went on to do a study of 6,000 adults. He came to the conclusion that those
who participated in play had a sense of light heartedness, empathy, optimism, hope for the
future, flexibility, and adaptability.
It wouldnt surprise me that if a study was done on the men whove committed mass
murders in the last 20 years that we would find that they didnt often participate in recreation or
unstructured play. Do we think that Dylann Roofthe man charged with the horrific crimes at
Emmanuel African Methodist Church regularly engaged in recreation or play?
Some of us might ask the question what does recreation or play have to do with our faith
What does recreation or play have to do with the Bible?

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The connection comes from the way we understand the Sabbath. Let me take some time
and share a teaching about the Sabbath.
The Sabbath was first mentioned in the Bible as one of the Ten Commandments. We
know it as the 4th Commandment.
Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any workyou, your
son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your
towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested
the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it. Exodus 20:8-11
Ever since this Commandment was shared people have looked at it differently.
One group of people have looked at the Sabbath as a day when we are not supposed to
work. This idea comes from a couple of stories. On six days God was involved in creating the
world and on the seventh day God rested. God didnt work. This day became known as the
Sabbath. Remember the story of the Israelites collecting manna in the wilderness. On the sixth
day they were to collect twice as much. Then what were they to do on the 7th day. Not collect
any manna. . They were not to work.
The question that people have wrestled with is what does it mean not to work? At one
level it seems pretty obviousdont go to your job on the Sabbath. Dont work. But the idea of
work has been expanded to go beyond a job. People in Jesus day had questions about this. If
your donkey fell into a hole, is it work to get your donkey out of the hole. If youre going for a
walk, is that work? Religious leaders developed all sorts of regulations about the Sabbath. They
even defined a Sabbaths day journey. Depending on what regulation your followed a person
could walk 3,600 feet on the Sabbath and not count it as work.

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This idea of not working on the Sabbath is still with us today. Have you heard of bluelaws? These were laws that banned certain commercial activity on Sundays. Some of us
probably remember growing up when nothing was open on a Sunday.
Do you know why they are called blue-laws? Some people think that the original laws
were printed on blue paper. And some people called them blue laws because the law would
make people blue or sad.
This is Sabbath as strict moral regulation.
Jesus pushed back on this idea of Sabbath. Six times in the gospels he broke a Sabbath
regulation. It made the religious leaders furious. Jesus would heal someone on the Sabbath, or
his disciples would pick grain on the Sabbath when they were hungry. Jesus believed in the 4th
commandment, but the Sabbath wasnt used to put a straight jacket on people.
Another way to look at the 4th commandment is to think of it as a day for refreshment or
rest. On this day we remember the Sabbath. What do we remember? We remember that in
the Creation story God rested on the 7th day of creation.
I came across a remarkable Scripture this week that I want to share with you. Its a
teaching on the Sabbath. Read it with me:
Therefore the Israelites shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their
generations, as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that
in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
Exodus 31:16-17
God was refreshed. To think that God was refreshed might blow away our ideas about
God. How can an all-powerful God be refreshed? The point that I want to lift up tonight is if
God rested and was refreshed, then we can rest and be refreshed.

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Each of us needs Sabbath. We need a day for recreation. A day where we can play and
enter a zone where we let go of the daily grind of life.
My Sabbath is Friday. I have to admit that I often use Friday to get caught up on all the
tasks Ive let go during the week. My Fridays seems like errand day. I have to remind myself
that running errands is not Sabbath. Sabbath is participating in activities like recreation or play
that help us enter a different realm of life
Recreation or play is spiritual. When we get out of ourselves and enter this different
realm of play we grow to look at the world differently. Welike Godare refreshed. Rest
does not mean we abstain from work and live by a rigid moral code. Rest means we participate
in activities that bring us joylike playing a game of kickball.
Let me close tonight with a challenge. Play with your family this week. Spend some
time involved with your family to do some recreation or play. This Sunday at Sunday alternative
is one opportunity for recreation or play. Were going to gather at Lakeside Commons Park.
Were going to have a short devotion, well eat together, and then well play. Go swimming or
rent a paddleboat. Were going to have some organized games ourselves. Bring your family and