Monday, July 20, 2015

The Rest God Gives Us

Mark 6:30-56, Lectionary 16 B, July 19, 2015
Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Consider these stories:
CPE, or Clinical Pastoral Education, is an intense time for seminary students. Over one summer, students spend long hours in a hospital visiting patients, examining family history, and analyzing experiences with classmates. CPE students are always “on.”
One of my friends completed his unit of CPE away from home and school, so he even stayed in the hospital. He once commented that his only time alone was when he was in the bathroom. It wasn’t until then that I realized that the bathroom and the car were the only places where I was alone during CPE.

This week, I learned of a children’s book called “Five Minutes’ Peace.” In it, a mother elephant named Mrs. Large wants just five minutes away from her three children. She walks into the kitchen in the morning to find it a huge mess. Then she tries to take a bath. One at a time, each of her kids pops in wanting to share something with her. For Mrs. Large, even the bathroom isn’t a silent place.
Why is it that sometimes in our lives we are so busy with work and family that we have no time to ourselves? The world never stops working. Emails and text messages come in at all times of day and night. Families have every minute of every day scheduled. From sports to dance to band, they are busy.
Some even get booked solid on vacation. Take yesterday, for example. Brett and I left my mother’s house at 8 a.m. We drove to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. We spent the entire time walking around the faire, until 5 p.m. Then we drove straight down to I-80 where we stopped at my Aunt Laurie’s house for a half hour. We visited with my Dad’s whole extended side of the family, including Skylar. Then we drove home. I wasn’t in bed until 11. We were so busy yesterday that it certainly did not feel like a vacation!
For many of us, resting can be hard work. Some of us need to schedule time alone. Sitting still for even ten minutes without a phone, TV, or other screen can be a challenge. If we are always on the go, how can we find time for God?
Jesus certainly struggled with this. His disciples have just come back from their first mission away from Jesus. They are grieving for John the Baptist. These twelve and Jesus just want to spend some time together before meeting up with the crowds. They want to share the stories of their journeys with each other, yet the crowds always seem to find them.
Jesus can never turn away from a crowd. Today’s gospel skips over the feeding of the 5,000. Then when the twelve finally escape the crowds and spend the night in a boat, the wind and waves won’t die down. That is when Jesus walks on water. When they return to dry land, crowds immediately pile up. Jesus starts this lesson by asking his disciples to come away and rest, yet they only get a few moments here and there. They sound like they need a retreat, yet they don’t get one yet.
Even for Jesus and his disciples, resting is hard work. Getting away from the crowds takes planning and ingenuity. Jesus knows that they need time to process what happened to them on their journeys. They need time to consider how God helped them along their way. They need time to pray.
And don’t we as well! It takes time to process how God is active in our lives. It takes time to see how God is working through us. The rest that we need is not necessarily time to sleep - although I certainly am going to nap this afternoon! Instead, we are challenged to find what we need to recharge and reconnect.
For some of us, that means spending time in front of the tv or video game. For others of us, it means turning all the screens off.
For some, it means cleaning and reorganizing the house. For others, it means living with the mess.
For some, staring at a lit candle. For others, having a deep conversation with a loved one. For some, getting away. For others, staying put.
Walking outside or sitting still.
Laughing or crying.
We all have different personalities that require different activities to recharge and reconnect.
By escaping the busy-ness of our lives, we might just find time to write, to color, to reflect, to pray. God is always there with us, yet we might not notice until we take the time to listen.
God once told us to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” Keep it set apart. Keep it different from other days. On this Sabbath, I pray that you don't let your work consume you. What will you do this afternoon to just “be” with God?
Marilyn McEntyre recently wrote, “I do not believe it is God’s will for us to be weary. Rest is always a teacher: God is in charge, and we are not indispensable. Play is a blessing. In laughter we become like little children; in sleep we are watched over; in lingering over a meal we learn something about love we can’t learn anywhere else.”
I pray that today you do find time to rest and recharge. I pray that you find time to play and laugh. I pray that you spend valuable time with your family. I pray that you find time to realize how God loves you. Jesus says to us, “Come away…and rest a while.” Let us do so today.

Because on Monday, you are sent out again. God sends you into your work or your community to be God’s hands and feet. Recharge today so that you can get back to God’s work tomorrow! Amen.

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