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7/19/2009 - The Rev. Caron A. Gwynn - The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

posted May 21, 2010, 6:34 PM by Unknown user   [ updated May 21, 2010, 6:34 PM by Terry Brady ]
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." (Mark 6:31, NRSV)

A writer describes this cartoon, a pastor stood on the platform of the train station. Vacationers waved and happily shouted at him as they filled the cars. The caption said, “Sure, it cost Pastor Smith a great deal to send the entire congregation on a vacation, but it was worth it!” (copied and adapted from, Lectionary, July 23, 2000, p. 33) We are in the middle of the summer season. This is the usual time we escape from our busy lifestyles to refresh and replenish ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. I myself am returning from a week-long vacation at the beach. I had wonderful days of enjoying the beauty of the deep blue sea, warm sand beneath my feet, and quiet time. We all need to take a break.

In today’s Gospel, the disciples are addressed for the first time as apostles. The word apostle literally means, “sent ones.” The apostles have just returned from a mission that Jesus used to test their hands at public ministry. The apostles were given both instruction and authority to anoint and heal the sick, cast out demons, and teach all who would listen. On the horizon was the decimation of an unusual type of leadership and discipleship for a new kingdom that differed from the customs of the people. This new kingdom had brought skepticism for some and hope for others starving for renewal in their lives.

The apostles returned and excitedly reported to Jesus everything they had experienced. They obviously had been successful because crowds of people had continued to follow them. The apostles were all talking at the same time while Jesus listened to their accounts. They, undoubtedly, had an adrenaline high following the debut of their public ministry. Jesus intuitively sensed their need for retreat and respite in the midst of their enthusiasm and exuberance.

Jesus does not say, ‘Wonderful! Now get back out there.’ No, he instead invites them to "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." (Mark 6:31) Jesus was aware that many people were coming and going as the crowds swelled in numbers and the apostles had little time to catch their breath or to eat. Jesus certainly knew what that was like. Perhaps some of you probably also know what racing around and neglecting some of your own needs feels like as well. You know that kind

of exhaustion. According to Luke, soon thereafter, Jesus and the apostles proceed to a boat and head towards a deserted place in Bethsaida for rest and recuperation.

Jesus knew the importance of recuperation and solitude for prayer. These are also important disciplines for us to mirror today. We know that Jesus also went to deserted places such as the wilderness, mountaintops, gardens, retreats, and walks by himself to rest, think, and pray.

Our call and challenge today is to search for those quiet places that provide peace and silence in the presence of the Lord so that we will be at our best to help others and be productive in our daily tasks. We are challenged in our fast paced society to recognize our limitations and know just how much we can cram into one day before we deplete our energies. Our youth are called to learn how valued they are by just being themselves in the eyes of God when they use a Sabbath day for rest and relaxation. This break from the grind of school and other activities afford our youth to time to dedicate to ministry or service to the community.

Our scripture today reminds us that vacations are wonderful gifts for us to take. However, we are called to consider that such refreshment can be interwoven with the daily threads of our lives and carefully stitched with an intentional balance of work, ministry, school, leisure, family, friends, and the solitude of prayer. (copied and adapted) Of course, this may not be an easy balance to accomplish.

Our faith community reminds us that when we are on vacation and when we return, we are very much a part of a Christian faith that holds our lives together in the body of Christ when we are resting and also when we return restored and energized for St. Margaret’s program mission as disciples of the risen Christ. We are called to remember that we are bonded together in one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.

We are the hands, the eyes, and the heart in the community modeling Christian teaching, healing, and reconciliation in our world. The strength and guidance for our ministries requires resting in solitude wherever we can find our quiet place. We are called to keep in mind that our Lord is the God of peace that teaches us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, and in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength…(adapted and copied from prayer #59, Quiet Confidence, Book of Common Prayer, p. 832)

Let us pray:

Help us to feel you calling us away into the quiet, sacred, holy, and lonely spaces. There are needs all around us, pressing us for answers, pushing us for help and pulling us for time. Yet we cannot fully engage these needs without the perspective that only you can bring from our time in the quiet. Grant us grace Lord to know when to retreat and when to engage. Give us ears to hear you in the quiet and eyes to see you through the haze of our urgencies and business in our lives. (copied and adapted from Homiletics, July 2009, p.25). Amen.