Come Rest A While

Mark 6:30-34

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to do something unusual. And, I believe, he often tells us to do the same thing. What we hear in the Gospel was:

    The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat (Mark 6:30-31)

In other words, he told them to ‘take a break’, and devote some time to being, rather than doing.

And I believe that He tells us the same thing:

    “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31)

He tells us to ‘take a break’, be by ourselves and rest.

We live in a world where everything is frantic – we have meetings upon meetings, obligations that we don’t necessarily want to do, but feel compelled to do, a ‘to-do’ list that is longer than our arm. We find ourselves mentally and physically exhausted. Yet we don’t rest. We may even believe that we cannot or should not rest. There is just too much to do. We push ourselves in a way we would never push anybody else. We feel something is wrong, that we don’t know what, and sometimes we even feel cheated. There is no time for ‘us’.

More often than not, we ignore Jesus’ command to rest. We want to follow Jesus and His teachings, but when it comes to Jesus telling us to take a break for a while we simply ignore Him.

To us, ‘doing’ is what following Jesus means.

Jesus has his reasons for telling the disciples to rest. They have just returned from a mission; He had sent them out in pairs and in haste They were not take nothing with them, but simply trust local hospitality to meet their needs. They were not to linger where they were not wanted. They were to be on the move, calling people to repentance, casting out demons, anointing the sick (Mark 6:7-12). It was work they had never done before, and once they returned, they must have been exhausted.

The disciples had returned from their travels and already there were people gathering to be ministered to. They weren’t even going to be able to stop for a minute and eat.

Jesus listened to the disciples as they reported on all they had done and taught on their mission. He did not, however, tell them to get moving and do more work. He didn’t ask them to do something difficult and dangerous, big and brave. Instead, what He asked them to:

    “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest for a while.” (Mark 6:31)

Jesus also invites us to rest, yet we treat rest as a four-letter word. If people are resting, we may be suspicious of them; if we are resting, we may think we are slacking off. There’s always more to do, more things we think we ‘should’ do. But Jesus says:

    “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest for a while.” (Mark 6:31)

I bet most of you can recite your calendar for what you did last week, and what you have to do in the coming week. I know, for me, last week I

    • Had lunch with girl friends in Granville 
    • Had dinner with friends 
    • Went to a breakfast meeting with community leaders
    • Attended a Staff meeting on the other side of town 
    • Met a friend for happy hour 
    • Attended an all-day training at the Columbus Police Academy 
    • Got my hair cut
    • Oversaw a wedding rehearsal which lasted way too long 
    • Ate too much at the wedding rehearsal dinner
    • Provided pastoral care for a friend whose spouse is in the hospital 
    • Finished this sermon
    • Shopped for a wedding gift
    • Got my nails done 
    • Shopped for In The Garden 
    • Attended an Egyptian Coptic wedding 
    • Went to a pre-party and Shakespeare play in Schiler park 
    • Had drinks with friends flying through Columbus 
    • Served two services in Worthington 
    • And then came down here.

I don’t even want to think about what next week is like!

I wonder why we don’t have routines that ensure we have time for ourselves? Why we don’t feel that we have ‘earned’ that rest?

But we can take steps to establish rest time; build into our lives times of rest and solitude to balance out the other busyness. When we start getting some rest, our life becomes more significant, more meaningful than it was when we were always on the go.

This ‘rest’ doesn’t have to be going away from everyone; we can create a mental space where we ignore all outside interruptions. . . we can go sit on a bench at a park, or in a corner of a library, whatever removes us from the bustle of the mad world we live in. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive or solitary. We just need to get our spirit, our soul, into a place of calm, quiet and rest. We need to clear our minds of all the disturbance to peace.

We need to remember that Jesus tells us to ‘take a break’, have a rest so we are re-energized. After all, you can’t ‘smell the roses’ if you never stop long enough to see them and get near them.

Amen.

 
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 19 July 2015

2 thoughts on “Come Rest A While

  1. I have to take time to rest and renew or I am no good at all. I get canker sores and I get cranky. Just a little bit of time each day makes all the difference to me. But some days, weeks, months, even that small amount of time is impossible to manage. It’s a good reminder that Jesus calls us to this time, this self care.

  2. Thinking about what rest and renewal look like for people living on the streets. Guess I’ll ask that question tomorrow. Thanks for heading me in this direction!

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