William Barclay once said: “The rhythm of the Christian life is the alternate meeting with God in the quiet secret places and serving folks in the market place.”
It’s common for pastors and priests to encounter “compassion fatigue” or “stress and burnout”. It describes a reaction observed in the “helping” professions after many years of service.
Everyone needs rest. We ought to remind ourselves to meet with God in a restful place as well as serving folks in the market place.
Consider the activities of St. Mark’s. Later this month we will prepare a meal for Sarah’s ministry, feeding those who have little in the way of food or shelter. Immediately following that are five days of Community Bible Camp, with fifteen or twenty little children—entertaining them with Bible stories, music and plenty of time to run and play. There are some who minister to those outside this building in the workplace, in the library, the jail, and the long term care facility. Several people faithfully Sunday after Sunday prepare this space for worship. We meet with others, offering friendship and compassion just as Jesus did.
Hopefully being in this place each Sunday renews us by the presence of Jesus and each other.
Time for worship and time for fellowship! In the Bible there are two words for “time”. One is kairos, God’s time, and the other is chromos, or clock time.
In music you might notice symbol over certain notes—(.) It means to hold that note as long as you feel appropriate or as long as the director determines. Some activities require us to begin or end on clock time. Worship prayer or resting time ideally runs on God’s time.
A short while before today’s Gospel story begins we have the account of the disciples sent out by Jesus to neighboring towns enjoying their success in proclaiming repentance, casting out demons and curing the sick. Reconnecting with Jesus, they told him all they had done and taught and he said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile.” For they had ministered to many not setting aside even enough time to eat.
Come away and rest, an invitation to step out of the activity of life, to slow down and change the pace.
Can you imagine how the disciples might have felt when they saw that huge crowd waiting for them on the other side of the lake? But Jesus had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd and he began to teach and minister to them. Though it’s not part of our Gospel scripture this morning we know Jesus did find those moments of rest and prayer.
Remember also as Jesus empowered those early disciples to share in his mission he sent out, two by two, not alone but in partnership with another.
Because we are a church which embraces the ideals of Total Common Ministry we honor the gifts and talents of all to do ministry in the same spirit of collaboration and cooperation.
From a book by Marc Gellman I offer this short story—Partners:
Before there was anything, there was God, a few angels, and a huge swirling glob of rocks and water with no place to go. The angels asked God, “Why don’t you clean up this mess?”
So God collected rocks from the huge swirling glob and them together in clumps and said, “Some of these clumps of rocks will be planets, and some will be stars, and some of these rocks will be…just rocks.”
Then God collected water from the huge swirling glob and put it together in pools of water and said, “Some of the pools of water will be oceans, and some will become clouds, and some of this water will be…just water.”
Then the angels said, “Well God, its neater now, but is it finished?” And God answered…”NOPE!”
On some of the rocks God placed growing things, and creeping things, and that only God knows what they are, and when God had done all this, the angels asked God, “Is the world finished now?” And God answered…”NOPE!”
God made a man and a woman from some of the water and dust and said to them, “I am tired now. Please finish up the world for me…really, it’s almost done.” But the man and the woman said, “We can’t finish the world alone! You have the plans and we are too little.”
“You are big enough,” God answered them. “But I agree to this. If you keep trying to finish the world. I will be your partner.”
The man and the woman asked, “What’s a partner? And God answered, “A partner is someone you work with on a big thing that neither of you can do alone. If you have a partner, it means that you can never give up, because your partner is depending on you. On the days you think I are not doing enough and on the days I think you are not doing enough, even on those days we are still partners and we must not stop trying to finish the world. That’s the deal.” And they all agreed to that deal.
Then the angels asked God, “Is the world finished yet?” and God answered, “I don’t know. Go ask my partners.”