8th Sunday after Pentecost.

Sermon Title: 8th Sunday after Pentecost

Date: 19th July 2015

Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers

Church Calendar Date: 8th Sunday after Pentecost

Lectionary Reading: Song of Songs 3:1-4a, Ps 64, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, John 20:1-18

“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

Rest awhile…doesn’t that sound delightful!

Last Sunday night, Jonathan and I went up to Olinda just for the night, to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  Log fire, good food and wine and each other!  And I love the smell of the earth and the tall Mountain Ash and tree ferns. I drink in this beauty which brings me back to who I am and who I am becoming.

“Come away …rest awhile” and then go back refreshed.

The apostles (the ones who were sent) gathered around Jesus. They told him all that they had done and taught.  After they had said all this to Jesus, he said “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”  And so off they went…the adrenaline was starting to wear off and they were feeling tired. As they neared the place they were going to rest there were more people needing… ….needing what?  They had seen or heard about the healings that Jesus had performed: about the young girl restored to life; about the words he spoke that offered freedom.  What did the people themselves need from Jesus?

What is not recorded today is what happened. We heard that Jesus had compassion on them and taught them many things.  The disciples (please note: now called disciples and not apostles: so let me explain. They were sent out with authority and taught like Jesus did. They were apostles. Now they are learning some more about being Jesus in the world: they are disciples).

The disciples wanted to send the crowd away as it was getting late and the people needed to go and find something to eat.  What happens next is the feeding of the 5000 story with five loaves and two fish.

What a wonderful description of the Eucharist. Of Holy Communion…Jesus blessed and broke the loaves and gave it to his disciples to feed the hungry people in this deserted place.

The people had come away and were fed and rested awhile.

The disciples were learning about the importance of this…what it means this coming away and resting awhile….in the company of Jesus.

It’s not just to get away on an anniversary.  It’s a deeper awareness.

We all live busy lives.  Most people I speak to say they are so busy…the word ‘busy’ is always in the conversation.  Not enough time in the day or week…

We have been seduced into thinking that we have to be busy or say we are busy otherwise we may be seen as slacking…or obviously not doing enough!

The truth is we are busy and in business you have to show what you are being paid for otherwise you may lose your job.  And some bosses are hard task masters asking huge amounts from their staff.

Not easy is it…to hold in balance the life we are experiencing, day to day and the need to come away and rest awhile.

A couple of things occurred to me as I read and reread this passage from Mark’s gospel.  The first is that the apostles ‘gathered around Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught’.  We are all apostles from the time we confirm our desire as part of the body of Christ and to show this in our words and actions.  “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” means we are ‘sent out’..as apostles.

The gathering around Jesus and telling him all they had done and taught seem to me to be about prayer.  In prayer, we sit in the presence of God known to us through Jesus.  We take all that is on our hearts..those things that concern us or we are happy about in this ‘space called prayer’: wherever that may be, and we then sit and listen.

As Apostles we are also disciples since we are continually learning about Jesus’ way in the world.

“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while”…and they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

This was Jesus intention for the well-being of his followers.  As we know, the best laid plans of rest don’t always work out. The phone rings-you have to go somewhere; the baby wakes up just as you sat down with a cuppa; trying to get some paper work done and there are interruptions.  That’s life! Our lives are not set out so neatly that nothing comes unexpected..they do.

There comes a time when you and I need to say no to something or someone. We can actually live so much on the edge we don’t realise it until we stop..and stopping is so uncomfortable that we get up and do something…

Many clergy and lay people often say they are too busy to take a retreat. We think that the world (our small world) won’t be able to manage without us for a few days.

In this passage today, it appears to be suggesting that you may have the desire to ‘come away and rest awhile’ but you see the need as Jesus did…who had compassion for the people and so if Jesus did, so should you.

There are all sorts of ways to interpret this story and we have just two bits from chapter six and so we need to hold it in the context of what Mark is trying to tell us, the hearers.

A glimpse maybe in the last verse of today’s reading.  “And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.”

The healing comes by touching Jesus…even just the fringe of his cloak.

The ‘rest’ comes by taking bread and wine and being nourished spiritually.

The ‘coming away’ is being aware of our belonging to the earth, the universe which is the very being and breath of mystery..God.

Someone told me recently that when they go to the mountains, whether the mountains are covered in snow or not, they feel an energy coming from the mountains that sustains them in their work and family life.

Many have just had school holidays. I do know that Toula and Lauren worked a lot in the holidays so they were on top of things when kinder started back up last Monday.  Not much of a break.

Sometimes the break comes and everyone gets sick in the household! Not much of a break!

No matter what our lives are like at the moment, it is in connecting or reconnecting with the source of life that will sustain us.

The people kept following Jesus needing something from him that they didn’t have in their lives and Jesus taught them and gave them something to eat.  The early church took this up as ‘word and sacrament’ in our communities of faith.

This is what is offered to each one of us. To gather around Jesus…come away…rest a while..be fed.  This may mean coming and praying in church, or praying when out walking or sitting in the sun.  It might be as you go to bed and reflect on the day you have had, or it may be gathering with friends and reflecting on your life.

“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

An open invitation to each of us.

The Lord be with you.