July 16, 2018

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." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
[Mark 6:30-31]
The assigned lectionary readings for this coming Sunday, July 22, the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
It's the middle of summer and I pray that by now you've taken some time for rest and relaxation. There have been times in the past few weeks when our Lutheran Center office has resembled a ghost town because of the scarcity of people. We have a small staff to begin with and when two or more are away, the building is extremely quiet.
And it is at this opportune moment that we read in the lectionary the invitation from our Lord Jesus Christ to his disciple to come away to a deserted place and rest awhile.These words seem comforting and timely.
I can't help but think about the words of St. Augustine, who wrote: "You have made us for yourself, and  our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you."
I'm also reminded of the words of Jesus in the gospel according to Matthew, which we often hear at funerals:  Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. [Matthew 11:28]
At the risk of sounding somewhat morbid, when you think about it, death is perhaps the only time we are truly at rest.
Undoubtedly, we live in a busy world. Despite all the time saving devices in our homes and work places, we still find it a challenge to do the things we like to do, to spend more time with our families, volunteer more of our time to a charity or to our church. We pack our lives so full that the day is finished before we've accomplished half of what we wanted to do.
Stress is an all too common fact in our lives. As a nation, we are in a constant state of anxiety. The end result is that we feel tired; or we find ourselves being angry at other people for almost no reason at all or, even more commonly, we feel unable to think good thoughts or do what we believe are good things. We are not at peace.
The National Sleep Foundation conducted a survey between 1999 and 2004 which revealed that 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders, and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Even children, 69 percent of them, experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week. [1]
For Jesus and his disciples, it wasn't much different. They were busy running from town to town, healing people, driving out evil spirits, and trying to meet the people's ever increasing needs.
But Jesus basically tells his disciples, "Time out!"
We all know this but more often than not we struggle on - especially those in the helping professions. We don't have time to stop for a while. In fact, we often feel guilty when we do stop for a while and have a bit of "me" time. This lack of rest often can lead us in the wrong direction. We don't assess things well it and make regrettable decisions.
Jesus didn't feel guilty about taking time out. He rested. He prayed. So often in the gospels you will read that. A few weeks back we witnessed Jesus sleeping in a boat that was being rocked by fierce waves.
He didn't make his disciples feel guilty either. They were human, so was he. They were leading a hectic life. There was a sense of urgency to get as much done as possible in the short time that Jesus had in the world. Yet Jesus has no qualms about having a little bit of time away from the pressures that had been placed on him by others.
All of us have days where we need that kind of invitation. Like Jesus, there are moments when we need to get away for a while so do we. We cannot keep up the pace under constant pressure from all directions. We need to retreat, so we may be refreshed and renewed to continue to do what has to be done.
"Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while."
You'll be all the better for it.
This coming Saturday, July 21, the Northeastern Ohio Synod Council meets at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Westlake. At this summer meeting we welcome those newly elected council members and say farewell and Godspeed to those who are going off council. The agenda at our meetings is usually somewhat lighter than at other times of the year.
On Sunday, July 22 through Tuesday July 24, I will be in Chicago to gather with the Task force for Authentic Diversity in the ELCA as we continue the task of developing a strategy to present at the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.
This week and always, l et Christ be your peace. Do not cut yourself off from one another, but rather, make time for those people with whom you disagree.
+Bishop Abraham Allende

[1]; accessed July 7, 2017