As we journey through the season of Epiphany together, we are looking for what Jesus’ birth, life and ministry reveal to us about God, the kingdom, and our role as disciples. We’ve taken a look at Jesus’ baptism and his desire to be with us as one of us (Matt 3). We’ve talked about Jesus’ self-proclaimed mission to set the captives free, tend to the oppressed, and declare the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4). We’ve talked about Jesus calling the first disciples, and their response of being all in (Mark 1). We’ve been charged to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world; to continue the healing ministry of Jesus as we see in Matthew 10:1. As we read Sunday, Jesus calls the twelve disciples to him and gives them “authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”
In Mark 6:30-31, we see what happens when the disciples return from being sent out to heal. Scripture tells us the apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. But so many people were coming and going they didn’t even have a chance eat, so Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to be alone with Jesus.
A few weeks ago I went on a (mandatory) residency retreat. Once I settled in and got over the forced resting time, it felt really good to lean into the presence of Jesus. I found God running around the lake outside our inn. I found God making a stained glass piece shaped like Ruth and Naomi. I found God getting to worship without having to lead. I found God in a healing service where I was invited to tell Jesus what I have heard and done and seen in this ministry.
I want to invite you to do the same. I want to invite you to lean into Jesus; to tell God what you have had to do. Many of us are facing difficult situations in our lives. Have you had to bury a friend? Have you had to keep vigil in a hospital room? Have you had to make decisions your children do not like? Have you had to walk with a friend in deep darkness?
See, Jesus sends us out to encounter the suffering in the world, but not without waiting around to hear how it affects us. Jesus says to you, “Come with me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest.”
But unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. There were people who saw the disciples getting away with Jesus so they “ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.” Dang it! Isn’t it true that just when you think you have a moment to yourself, someone finds you?
The truth is there will always be someone. Someone wanting to play, someone wanting to talk, someone needing you to email or call. Thus, it becomes our holy responsibility to carve out time to be alone with God, to ignore the distractions and the demands, and to lean into the presence of Jesus. Because if we are going to continue the compassionate and justice-driven acts of Jesus, we have to tend to our own souls. We have to allow Jesus to rejuvenate us so we can keep going.
May you find a quiet place and some rest this day and every day.
Rev. Sam McGlothlin