“Finding Your Quiet Place” Mark 6:30-44, 53-56 7.22.2018
I enjoy science fiction movies about space. Science fiction movies such as “Star Wars,” “Contact,” “Men in Black”, and “Star Trek.” And of course this past Friday, July 20th, marked the 49th anniversary of the first landing & walking on the moon.
Just the possibility of life in outer space is absolutely fascinating to me. I wanted to be Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, which is my all-time favorite Sci-Fi movie, and one of my top 10 all-time favorite movies.
Some would say we don’t have to go that far to find alien life forms. Just go cruise the Mall, or visit downtown any time, or people watch in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, or in some cases, just attend a family reunion.
The concept of life in outer space IS fascinating but at the same time, I think if we dwelt as much on the concept of life in inner space we would all be or feel closer to God.
- It’s that inner space, that life of the soul, life of the spirit, which keeps us going.
- It is life of the inner space within us that keeps us focused and directed.
- It’s this life of inner space that Jesus was concerned with.
If we look at today’s passage, Jesus looks like a normal everyday 21st century kind of guy. We see him running from one appointment to another, from one job to another.
This reading today shows that Jesus had a great work ethic. Jesus modeled the Judeo-Christian work ethic going from this task to that task: healing the sick, feeding the poor, preaching and teaching.
Jesus would have been a good follower of the early Puritan directive which reads: “Be diligent. Never be unemployed. Never be triflingly employed. Never trifle away time; neither spend any more time at any one place than is strictly necessary.”
It appears that Jesus also believed the old Biblical injunction that “idle hands are the devils’ workshop.” But then smack dab in the middle of all of his busyness and activity, Jesus tells the disciples that it’s time to get away. He says it’s time for them to retreat from the crowds, to get away from it all. So Jesus took them to a deserted place; a quiet place where they could get some rest, both physical and spiritual rest.
Now I am going to suggest this morning that because of this passage, this small part of a larger story of Jesus, we have a religious responsibility to goof off from time to time.
Now this seems to go against the work ethic that I was raised with and to which I mostly follow. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. You see, the Biblical aspects of what Jesus was saying hit me.
What Jesus was talking about was one of the foundational concepts of Scripture, the idea of Sabbath time – a 24 hour period where no person, or animal did any work. Jesus knew and practiced what we all need to know and practice, namely, that we need Sabbath time.
Somehow in our world of modern technology, we’ve tried to do away with the whole concept of Sabbath. We’ve avoided Sabbath by keeping the stores and businesses open seven days a week; 24 hours a day. How many of you remember the “Blue Laws” that your community may have had on Sundays?
With the advent of the internet, computers, laptops, & cell phones, we can be just about anywhere and be working all the time.
Work can get a hold of us, and take over us. So can our dealings with our gadgets:
Smartphones, iPads, lap-tops, etc. We don’t ever have to turn off or disconnect. We can just keep connecting and working.
What was thought to free us from work by helping to make it easier has really bonded us to our work and to our gadgets.
But that’s not the way we were created or the way God intended. That’s why God created the Sabbath so that we COULD take time to rest, regroup, retreat and refocus our lives. Look at our passage. Right smack dab in the middle of the busyness of ministry, Jesus called the disciples to “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
They didn’t get to stay there very long; the people saw who Jesus was, where the whole group were going and actually beat them to the spot. But the point is that Jesus knew the need for physical, emotional and spiritual rest.
Jesus calls us, his modern day disciples to, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Modern day translation: “Disconnect; put down the gadget; & get off the grid.”
And there are all kinds of rest. Here are just a few key types of “rest”.
- There’s the rest we get from SLEEP: It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do. We can be “bone tired” and wake up totally refreshed. Problems that appeared insurmountable suddenly seem to put themselves in order after a good night’s sleep.
- There’s the rest you get from VACATION: that get away from it all time with your family. This is one area we lag behind the countries of Europe for example where four weeks of vacation a year is mandatory and six weeks customary, which allows for workers to return brimming with energy.
In the US, by contrast, employers seldom give more than 10 days paid vacation. Is it any wonder that we as a nation lag behind many of the European nations in life expectancy?
- There’s the rest you get from PLAY: that mindless emptying of self in laughter and fellowship.
- There’s the rest you get from WORSHIP: where God’s presence is invoked corporately, where God’s love and forgiveness are pronounced and praised in Word and song, where our souls are lifted to a higher level and the very presence of our Creator can be felt.
- There’s the rest you get from RETREAT: where your focus is to pull away and regroup.
Sometimes that is exactly what we need, a time away from the ordinary including all the noises, sounds, and movements.
I heard a story about a couple that, after having their fifth son, received a playpen from some friends. Several weeks later the friends who sent it, received this thank you. It read: “The playpen is wonderful; just what we needed. I sit in it every afternoon and read. And the kids can’t get close to me!”
- And there’s also the rest you get from PRAYER: that time set aside to both talk with and listen to God.
Prayer is amazing. All you have to do to feel God’s presence is listen & then respond. One writer spoke of prayer in this way:
- It’s NOT the platitudes: You don’t need to speak in Holy Language to pray. Ordinary everyday words are just fine.
- It’s NOT the multitude: You don’t need to run off at the mouth in Holy Language either. We are supposed to talk to God but we don’t have to babble on and on and never shut up. We need to listen, too.
- It’s NOT the altitude: You don’t need high and lofty sounding words to impress God; or high and lofty ideas. You don’t have to have a Degree in Theology in order to pray.
- It IS the attitude: The desire to be in relationship and to continue that relationship. . .
- And the gratitude: Of the heart and soul that counts.
This attitude & gratitude is precious to God.
It dawned on me one day while I was praying that the first thing we should do when we pray is give thanks. We should thank God for all the blessings of life. We should live in a perpetual state of thankfulness.
If we did that, if we really gave thanks to God for what we have, for who we are, for the talents and abilities, for friends and family that we have, the chances are we would all be a whole lot happier.
- But maybe the best rest of all is the rest you get from FORGIVENESS.
We all have those little things and those huge things that burden our lives:
- Something we said, or did, or thought.
- It might the grudge we’ve harbored for years.
- Or the anger we’ve carried over a certain situation.
- It could be jealousy or lust or greed.
The list could go on and on.
Only you know what it is that burdens your heart and soul and keeps your spiritual back bent under the strain of that heavy load.
The Good News is that through the Cross of Christ, through God’s great love for you and me as expressed in Jesus Christ, through the forgiveness which God offers, you can know the best rest of all.
You can know the rest of the repentant & forgiven heart.
- The rest of the unburdened spirit.
- The rest of the clean heart re-created by God.
Several years ago, newspapers told how a new Navy jet fighter shot himself down. He survived. Flying at supersonic speed, the jet ran into cannon shells it had fired only a few seconds before. The jet was traveling too fast! Faster than the cannon shells that it had shot!
If you don’t or haven’t taken time to recharge your batteries, to honor the Sabbath, to worship and to spend time in prayer then you are in the same kind of danger as that jet, the danger of traveling too fast to hear God.
Slow down. Listen to Jesus’ call to the disciples in today’s story & to you as well: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
- Take time for a Sabbath rest.
- Take time to play and to pray.
- Take time to worship.
- Take time to unburden your soul.
**Know the best rest of all, the rest of a forgiven heart and spirit.
And when you focus on that inner space of your life and find that rest remember the words of St. Paul in Ephesians 2:19, “You are no longer strangers and aliens, but citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
@Rev. Tim Wolbrecht, July 2018
Here’s the audio recording of the sermon. TO LISTEN, in the SoundCloud window below, CLICK (or double-Click) the red button with the white arrow pointing to the right. If that does not work, then click on the “Sermon 7-22-18” name of the sermon.