Sunday 18th July -The rhythm of rushing and resting
Opening Ecclesiastes 3:1,12-13
Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.
So I realized that all we can do is be happy and do the best we can while we are still alive. 13 All of us should eat and drink and enjoy what we have worked for. It is God's gift.
Hymn Be Still and know that I am God
O God, you are our shepherd. Your care and compassion were shown in the life of Jesus. We ask that, this very day, we may experience the rest you offer, the peace that can restore and revive us and enable us to live the promised abundant life. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
God, our loving Father, who gently guides and leads us, restore our souls today as we come to worship you. Let us not hurry, but sit at your feet, gazing upon your lovely face. Amen.
Jeremiah 23.1-16 Psalm 23 Ephesians 2.11-22 Mark 6.30-34,53-56
Hymn: Hold on to me – Lauren Daigle
Comments on Readings
I know that the song Everything Turn, turn, turn was a pop song of the 1960’s but the words come directly from Ecclesiastes and sort of mirror the turning of life, the consistency of the world, but sometimes it is like being on a treadmill, and you cant get off. Where is the off button, that we all sometimes need?
Everything, turn, turn, turn Pete Seeger and The Byrds
Busyness – with all its attendant stresses – is a common problem, and we have looked at this word in a Bible Study series which we completed last year. If I take time off or away, I’ll only have twice as much to do when I get back! But putting yourself first is not always the wrong thing to do. Anyone one who has flown in an aeroplane will know that you have to put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help someone else. Looking after yourself puts you in a better position to show compassion to others.
Jesus seems to have been recognised and followed by crowds wherever he went, with little time to rest or even eat on occasions. No wonder that his desire – for himself and for his disciples – was to get away and have some ‘me time’ – even though on so many occasions His plans were somewhat thwarted as our reading this week shows.
The action takes place around the Sea of Galilee, which is an inland sea, If someone had access to a boat, it would be easy therefore to row or sail across to the other side. Unfortunately, because of the hilly ground all around, anyone watching from the shore would also have a good view of your progress and could make a good guess as to where you were going to land. And because rowing, is not the fastest form of transport, someone could make the journey on foot and be there to greet you. This is what happened when Jesus took his disciples away to a quiet place to rest. The crowds got there before them. His plans for a quiet time had gone again!
So how do we get this rest: work balance?For, time pressure and competing demands are nothing new. When Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series is trusted with a device that will turn back time so that she can attend more school lessons, she finds that having more time is not actually a solution if it just means packing even more into each day. ‘If only I had more time!’, she says. My children used to watch a television programme called ‘Bernard’s watch’, what this watch did was it stopped time for everybody else, but it allowed Bernard the time to do the things that needed doing to put right something which would have caused injury or harm to somebody else.when I worked and even now, I still sometimes need ‘Bernard’s watch’, I need time to stop, for everyone, so that I can do the things that I need to do within the limited time I have available. But we never have more time; we only have now, the moment in which our lives unfold and live. When I was on holiday I read a book, called ‘here and now’ by Santa Montefiore, the repeated line in the book was ‘what is wrong with now’ Jesus made deliberate choices about the time He would spend alone and the occasions that He was willing to forgo this for the sake of others. We too need to manage our time so that we can both ‘do and rest, work and relax’. How do we wind peace in a world that is constantly changing and moving? There used to be a poster that read ‘stop the world, I want to get off’ how many of us hear feel like that at times? We long for peace.
But there are many different facets of ‘peace’. In Psalm 23, peace comes from being protected, even in times of danger. For Jeremiah, peace came from speaking and acting truthfully. He could then envision the peace that would exist when the nation was restored. Yet his book also contains a lot of anguish – not much peace of mind there! The writer of Ephesians sees peace as the epicentre of God’s plan, which has been brought about by the very death of Jesus who has divided any walls and barriers that exist between individuals so that we are now all one in him, we are all part of the body of Christ, united and joined together at peace with him. But for Paul, this was a big change to his way of thinking and as a former Pharisee he had to let go of all that he had been taught to be at peace with what God had done. Sometimes we need to just rest in God, know that He is right and let Him hold us.
Jesus holds onto his own peace – in the midst of the whirling crowds – by first teaching people, then drawing apart. Surely this is the examples we must follow, in order to work for God effectively we first need to charge our own batteries, we need to spend time with him in rest, then knowing his will we need to move and speak his word his truth in the place where we are, here in Blaby.
People today have the same needs as those in the Gospel reading. A key difference between then and now is that Jesus’ death and resurrection instigated what Paul called in Ephesians ‘one new humanity’ a much larger and more diverse crowd than the 5,000 who sat down by the lakeside at the end of the first reading in Mark’s gospel. This Gospel story has echoes of Psalm 23 and Jeremiah’s shepherd-king – the one who had real concern for God’s sheep. Jesus had compassion and so tired as He was, He began to teach and heal, there would be a time for rest, a time to spend with His father, but now the people needed Him.
Like Jesus we are shepherds of the flock of Blaby, and like Jesus we have to respond to their needs, if they come, we need to teach we need to hear we need to be there for them. This, Sunday morning is our time to be at peace, at rest, to spend time with God, refreshed and renewed we can then teach and heal. Our prayer groups and Bible studies allow even more time for rest, relaxation and sitting in God’s presence, we need to grasp those times to fit us for His work. Amen
Hymn: The Lords my Shepherd (new) Stuart Townend
Lord, your compassion for the crowds that swamped you was ever present. Compassionate Lord, we bring before you now our brothers and sisters around the world. In China where churches are being destroyed. In South Africa where many are being threatened with guns if they set foot out of their homes. We pray for all Christians. For all victims of prejudice, here and worldwide.
Lord of all righteousness and peace, we pray for a dissolving of hatred and a renewal of compassion and unity.