Rest Awhile

I am so sorry this is a few days late!  I had the Trustees annual inspection at the parsonage after church on Sunday and then a Missions meeting and cookout.  It was also approximately 500 degrees this weekend and I was getting ready for our youth group Week of Service (which I am posting updates about on our church Facebook page!) and just ran out of time and energy.

Anyway – here you go!  A sermon on rest.  And how we need rest BEFORE things get crazy in our lives (that’s a strange concept!).

***

Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
July 19, 2015

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Rest Awhile

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile.

Rest awhile.

Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Two weeks ago, over 50 women gathered at Five Bridge Inn on Pine Street in Rehoboth for our annual Women of Faith speaker and meal. Donna McCarthy – who has run the event for the past four years – opened the evening by giving us all a wonderful gift – a moment of silence.

How often do any of us truly experience silence in our own lives?

The Board of Deacons gathered for a retreat yesterday morning and one thing several people mentioned was how challenging it is for them to find balance in their lives; how difficult it is for them to experience quiet in their day; how hard it is to simply ‘be’ in the moment and let themselves unclench.

How many of you struggle with these same things?

You are not the only one.

Bruce and I both have a week of vacation coming up in August and – as we were planning various things to do throughout the week – we were talking about my Sunday morning off that week. I get four weeks off a year, and, while I have a lot of flexibility during the week, 48 Sundays a year, I kind of have of a non-negotiable commitment.

So I am sure you can only imagine Bruce’s delight when I said to some of our friends last week, “I think I am going to host a really fancy brunch at our house the Sunday I am off in August!”

I believe his exact words were, “What is wrong with you?”

We live in a very fast paced world; one that demands us to multitask, to accomplish a lot in a very little amount of time and to always keep up with the people around us. Society sets the bar high; we are expected to be moving, constantly be doing something, and constantly be producing something.

But here is the thing: This pace is not only difficult to keep up with, but I also believe (even though I get caught up in it as much as anyone else does) that – as human beings – this is a pace that we are not wired to keep up with. Our bodies need rest; our minds need rest; and our souls need rest. We are programmed to need a break and yet in this world that we are living in, this is one of the hardest things in our lives to do.

And yet – this is exactly what Jesus told his disciples to do.

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile.

So let us take a moment now to just … be. Take a deep breath – and, as we observe a moment of silence, I invite to simply let yourself unclench.

Observe a moment of silence …

We should do that more often, don’t you think?

Well – guess what? Jesus told us to!

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile.

In this morning’s reading from the Gospel of Mark, we hear the bookends of two really important stories from Jesus’ life. We start at verse 30, where Jesus tells his disciples to go to a deserted place to get some rest and then we jump to verse 53, where the disciples were traveling to a new place by boat and, when they arrive at their destination, crowds of people are waiting to be healed. In between these two passages were the stories of Jesus feeding the five thousand and walking on water.

So I think that we can all agree that Jesus had a lot going on at that point in time.

But do you know what? Most of us have a lot going on in our lives, as well. We have jobs, families, homes and relationships. We have commitments, obligations and stressors. We have hectic schedules and real struggles every single day of our lives.

And so it is imperative that we remember that in the midst of all that Jesus had going on – in the midst of Jesus feeding thousands of people, walking on water and healing crowds that were quite literally following him and his disciples around – Jesus took time to rest.

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile.

We need to intentionally practice this in our own lives as well. We need to rest, we need to find Sabbath and we need to give our bodies and our minds and our souls a much-needed break.

And we need to do this regularly.

Because do you know what? Life is always (always, always!) going to be waiting for us when we enter back into it. It was for the disciples! No sooner were they off the boat in Gennesaret that people rushed to them and begged for Jesus to heal their sick. And no sooner than any of us walk into our homes or get to work or check our email or pick up our phone or gather with our friends and our family that some sort of chaos will ensue in our lives.

This is life.

And this is why we need to rest. This is why Jesus told us to rest.

So as you leave this place and re-enter the craziness of your day-to-day lives, I encourage you to really think about this scriptural call to rest in your lives. Remember that this is something that Jesus held as important in his life and called his disciples to do the same. Make it a priority and do not let yourself feel guilty.

We are called to be Christ’s disciples and in order to do that we need take care of ourselves.

So – my friends and disciples of Christ – let yourself rest. Let your body your body unclench. Let your mind be quieted. Let your soul find peace.

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

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