Christ’s Compassion REST-ores, Re-Stores and Restores
The disciples had a busy week! Jesus sent them out two by two into the community and they taught and preached and healed the sick. They were pumped. God’s power just flowed through them. They were on fire!
But instead of saying… GO TEAM! And sending them right back out to do kingdom work, Jesus said.. “Come away… and rest a while.” Of course there was more work that could have been done… people kept coming to them. They didn’t even have time to sit down to eat. They found themselves rushing from one thing to another – without taking time to rest, restore their bodies or renew their souls.
Ever have that feeling? I do – and I bet many of you do too. Too often I find myself rushing about, piling too many things on my “to do” list -- and then other things get added along the way. I’m guessing that happens to many of you too. Busyness is the way of our culture – but sometimes we can take a bit of pride in how “busy” we are.
For example, Pat, one of the people at text study this past week, told about her friend Chris, an incredibly talented and caring woman who does a lot of good for other people. But, after a half hour of listening to Chris - complaining or was it bragging about all that she had done and how tired she was – Pat interrupted and said: “Stop. Don’t say another word about it. Instead: take a nap, take a walk, take a bubblebath. Do whatever you need to do to let this go. You have done great work but now you are clearly empty and exhausted. She said you need to rest, be renewed, and be restored.
And so do we. You may have seen the bumper sticker: “Jesus is Coming – hurry up and look busy!” But Jesus is not calling us to be busy. Jesus is calling us to be faithful. Jesus is calling us into discipleship.
"Do your best, and give God the rest." Is that what it means to be faithful? It can be. I’m reminded of the pastor who used to pray at the end of each day: “Dear God’, I’ve worked hard today but now I’m tired and need some rest. So it’s in your hands now.” That was his way of letting go of what was not his to solve – at least not that day – and to place it in God’s hands.
That’s a good habit. But in my devotions yesterday, another pastor wrote that “Do your best and give God the rest” used to be her mantra too. But after being exhausted from a very full week of ministry, she realized that she had been so busy that she hadn’t been doing her best. So her new mantra is this: Take time to rest so that you can give God the best.
Rest. Jesus knows how important it is for us. We read in the first chapters of Genesis that God created the world… and then created the seventh day for rest. And again, in the 10 commandments, God commands us to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy… and that includes holy rest.
Holy rest, Sabbath rest, is a rest that restores us, that makes us whole. I’d like you to write down the word “restore” on your bulletin. Notice that the first four letters of restore… R.E.S.T… spell rest. Doctors often tell us: “get plenty of rest” and by that they usually mean sleep. Sleep is crucial to our well being, to any effort to restore us and make us whole.
After their first big experience in preaching and teaching, Jesus told the disciples that they needed to “rest for awhile” – so they headed out in a boat to the wilderness – a place to take a retreat by themselves. But the crowd saw where they were going and so they ran around the lake to what had been a deserted place – and got there first. Now Jesus could have had the disciples drop an anchor in the middle of the lake and take a nap – but instead… Jesus had compassion on all the people.
Out of his compassion, Jesus he did three things. First, he taught them. The people were hungry for the word of God and to know the way of God. And then he fed them. You might have noticed that the Gospel skips nineteen verses –in that gap is the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. We’ll read that story next week. And then… the people brought the sick to Jesus – and Jesus heals them.
In Jesus’ compassion, he restores the people whether they are tired, or hungry for the word of God or the bread of life or needing to be healed. Jesus restores each one.
I’d like you to look at that word “Restore” again. We’ve looked at the word rest hidden inside it. But there’s one more word. “Store.” Jesus’ holy rest renews us and fills up the “store” of our reserves.
On Friday, I witnessed people being restored by Christ in many ways. First, at Bee Loechler’s funeral, faithful people gathered to hear God’s word and receive the bread of life. Then other people gathered to feed their bodies with a luncheon. Their grief was tended and their hearts and minds and bodies were re-stored.
Another group of faithful people gathered to prepare for teaching children at Vacation Bible School this week so that children, youth and helpers will be re-stored or maybe hear the story of Jesus for the first time.
And then I was blessed to be with Al Anderson’s family at St. Therese as we mourned his death. St. Therese has a beautiful tradition for those who die there. They call it the “Angel Walk.” The body is covered with a beautiful blanket that has roses all over it and is wheeled to the front door where staff and friends gather to sing, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Before he was placed in the hearse, we prayed, sang, blessed his body, and entrusted him to eternal rest in God’s care
A slight rain was falling as I got into my car. Suddenly I realized that it had been a long day and I was tired. But then the sun peaked out – and over the horizon a rainbow started to form. As I drove towards home, the rainbow grew until it was a full arch in the sky. Looking up….I was in awe.
Jesus restores us in many ways – through the Word, through his body and blood, through Christian community, and holy rest and through the wonder of creation.
Thanks be to God whose wonders never cease, who restores us and makes us whole. Amen.
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54 When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
Pastor Pam Stalheim Lane
Faith-Lilac Way Lutheran Church
July 22, 2018