This Sunday's sermon began with a Greek legend
about Aesop and letting your bow go slack. You had to be there! This
story was tied into the story from the gospel . We focused on Jesus
saying to the disciples and all of us "Come apart to a deserted place
and rest awhile." (Let your bow go slack for a while.)
We considered listening to the 10 commandments
as a sort of owner's manual for us, given by a loving parent who wants
us to have life to the full. And we paid attention to the fact that one
of the steps in life to the full is the 5th commandment which says,
Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy. We can't be too legalistic about
that. Although Sundays are the best day for rest because they include
worship, as an RN I had to work my share of Sundays. What the
commandment is trying to say is that for our own spiritual health, just
like God, we need one in seven days to be a day of rest. If we don't
rest, we won't have the spiritual strength to meet the challenges that
inevitably come up in life. And importantly, if we are exhausted
physically, mentally, and spiritually, we won't be much good for other
Saint Benedict recommended rest when he wrote a
rule of life for his followers. He called it holy leisure. It wasn't
just sitting watching the weeds grow or the paint peel. For him, holy
leisure meant spending time doing something that offered peace and
nourishment for the soul.
Rest provides a time to refocus. There is a
danger when we are on a mission from God, to take our eyes off Jesus and
begin focusing on what
are doing. Rest gives us time to shift our attention from our
activities back to our relationship with God. Doing this keeps us from
looking with pride at our own power, our own reason, our own
accomplishments. Instead we look at what God is doing through us. Good
questions to ponder are :
Have I allowed rest to shift my attention back to Jesus?
Do I use my rest time to refocus?
Do I truly slow down enough when I rest?
Other goals for Sabbath rest are to be reminded
that there is more to life than work. We are more than our work. What we
do is not our identity. And Sabbath rest gives us time away from what
we have to do and gives us an opportunity to do something nourishing.
Like read a book, listen to music, create music, view art, paint a
picture, take a photograph, do carpentry, go for a walk, play a game,
plant a garden, invite friends over, give thanks, delight in what we
have. And maybe during our rest we can take time, like the disciples
did, to stop and tell Jesus all we've done in ministry before we go on
to the next thing.
Finally we heard the poem "Leisure" from the
Welsh poet W. H. Davies. Look it up and ask yourself, after you've read
it, if you give yourself time to stand and stare. Interestingly, our
Senior Warden, Ted Jones, had to memorize that in school when he was a
young boy in Canada. Maybe God was telling him to remember to rest,
after having his hip replaced just 4 days before showing up in church on
Sunday! May we all accept Jesus' invitation to us today to come apart
and rest awhile. And maybe for a few minutes we will give ourselves
permission to just stand and stare.