Ephesians 2: 11-end Mark 6: 30-34, 53-end
Modern technology is wonderful. Gone are the days when the battery operated equipment relied on cells that were large and heavy. Today’s operates from small button cells whilst other equipment may be operated using small batteries. To make matters even better many use rechargeable batteries. But there is a possible disadvantage here. A good number of rechargeable batteries give of their best for a long time only to suddenly fade away leaving you with nothing.
Jesus was just welcoming back his teams of disciples. Turn by turn they reported back to him what they had achieved. from healing children to inspiring people, all of the time serving and witnessing to Jesus. He could see that they had laboured hard and were ready for a break. Just across the lake from where they were Jesus knew of a spot where they could rest up for a while. “Come away and rest”. Words so full of comfort and invitation. An opportunity to step back and let the world do its thing whilst you recuperate ready for the next challenge.
This Bible passage is just right for this time of year. For many it is an opportunity to pack up the bags and go away for a holiday, Covid permitting. The sand of a nice beach may be calling or is it the challenge of a trek along a series of footpaths and trails? Is a nice mountain just asking for you to climb up it to marvel at the view (clouds permitting) or does the prospect of just crashing out with a book for a nice quiet and uninterrupted read be your idea of bliss providing you with rest and recuperation?
It can be argued that taking a holiday can be counterproductive. Just before you leave you work like crazy to make sure you are as far ahead as you can get. When you return you really settle down attempting to catch up with what has had to be left whilst you are away. Mind you, with modern portable technology it is easy to take work away with you. Does that not negate the idea of taking a holiday? In a world with fragile economies around one does not really wish to be seen as expendable or unessential. Better to be sure and whilst away just do this and that, or is it?
Bear in mind how the modern batteries are likely to give good results for 99% of their life only to suddenly, and without warning, cease to provide any output and all grinds to a halt. We have a battery-powered lawn mower. It does a good job and is light and easy to handle. It does have one drawback. There is only one strip of lawn to cut and suddenly the mower stops. The battery has died. Ok, it gives you a 90 minute break to do something else whilst it charges up again. But does our life have to be like that?
Jesus invited his disciples to go away with him. There was no suggestion that their work was finished, that they were to be made redundant. A pause was being offered to allow them to take of the proper rhythm that following a Christian life involves. Yes, there is a place for work but there is a time for rest also. There is a time to be compassionate with the people you meet, a time to witness to the love of God. But there also has to be a time to recharge the system. The body needs time to mend the worn out parts and to relax the strained parts. And, vitally, the spirit, the soul needs time to readjust, to reconnect with God our Father. Only then will the Holy Spirit be recharged to its full capacity to enable us to go out and continue to do that we are being called to do.
Yes, ok, go out and work for all you are worth. Achieve the successes you are aiming for and enable the improvements you have set your sights upon. But at the same time remember that you have a spiritual battery as well as a physical battery. A quick hamburger might provide a speedy boost to the physical side but the spiritual battery needs a totally different boost.
Embrace the spiritual practice of rest and renewal for Jesus’ sake. Rest, relaxation, and holiday are not only God-given gifts; they are God-directed necessities.
Collect for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity
Lord of all power and might,
the author and giver of all good things:
graft in our hearts the love of your name,
increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness,
and of your great mercy keep us in the same;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.