From Fr. Peter
There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,   for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. -Hebrew 4:9,10

I confess, I am tired. I’m not sure why, having not left home except for essential errands. Some of you have children and even when the sun goes down and it's bedtime, they still don’t know that it’s time to rest. Stand up comic Jim Gaffigan calls putting his kids to bed a hostage negotiation in reverse. 

We have fears and anxieties that cause us to loose sleep. Maybe it’s a relational situation; you have to confront someone in the morning and as soon as the lights go out, you are practicing the conversation and weighing out the possible outcomes. Budgeting and bills. All that is left to do in a semester, or the quarter.

It's hard for us to rest, isn’t it? Even on our days off, our minds spin because it is hard for us to rest. Have you ever experienced, or can you imagine rest: absolute, complete, comprehensive emotional rest? Physical rest? Spiritual rest? In the Letter to the Hebrews, we read, “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” It is the promise of rest that is offered to us; not just any kind of rest, but God-given rest.

I’m not going to write about the Lord of the Rings this time, but I'm going to share with you about Tolkien himself. Tolkien was the kind of man, the kind of writer who was never satisfied with his work. He never thought it was finished. He was never able to let his work go; always writing and rewriting, changing and rearranging, adapting, moving things around—it took him forever to be willing to let go and let his work be published. 

He wrote a short story called Leaf by Niggle . In one of his letters, he talks about that story. You see, he had a dream and in that dream he saw this story. He woke up and quickly began writing it down, and in only a few weeks, he was finished with it. He credits this story with helping him get to a place where he could let go of the Lord of the Rings and allow it to be published. 

I hope you'll read Leaf by Niggle on your own, but let me tell you about it: In a village is a man called Niggle. And he really loves to paint and he is working on a grand painting on a canvas so large that he needs a ladder to climb up and work on it. At the center of this painting is an enormous and beautiful tree. Around this tree, he has sketched out a cottage and a garden and in the distance, mountains. 

He has sketched out this beautiful place, but he can never get around to painting it because he always has to work. Even when he goes to work in the city, he is always thinking about the painting. And when he is at home, he is always distracted and never has enough time. This is troubling because he knows that there is an inevitable journey coming up—which is analogous to death. And so he feels that he is never going to finish—never going to be satisfied with his painting. He is so focused on each individual leaf of the tree in the painting, making each one distinct and detailed that he could never have time to finish it. 

The day of the inevitable journey comes. The train pulls into the station and Niggle has to leave. His painting is left unfinished. His canvas is taken by the village and used to patch up a neighbor’s roof and it all seems ruined. 

At the end of the journey, when the train steams to a halt, Niggle is in a green countryside and there is, cut into the hill, a gate with his name on it. He enters through the gate, up and down the hill, and there is his tree. And it's exactly the way he pictured it in his mind but was never able capture it in his painting. But it's there. And it's real. And there are the foundations for his cottage and the rows plowed for his garden—yet unplanted. And he finds in this place that he has the time and the energy to complete the work—to complete the picture. Eventually he does and he steps back from his work and is satisfied with it. He can let it go and walk away to other things like exploring and enjoying the mountains. The last phrase of the story says, “And the mountains rang with his laughter.”

Tolkien came to believe that there would be rest in God—new heaven; new earth—where he would have time and energy to work and be satisfied, and to rest. That helped him. As he believed in that rest to come, he was able to enter into rest in God through faith in Jesus. So he could let go of his work and be happy and satisfied with it.

The Good News is that satisfying rest is available to us now; even though the world is broken and nothing we do is perfect. We’re free. We’re free to let go of it and rest in God. To find in God satisfaction—full and complete, finding in him security and significance so much so that the thing we build and do with our hands or in our relationships, while we apply our very best—are not for our satisfaction. Because we’ve entered into God’s rest by believing and being satisfied by the Gospel, we look forward to the consummation—the day it will be fully and absolutely realized. We can stop working restlessly because, as the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews continues, “for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” Our attempts to be our own savior, our own Lord are vain—because the Good News is that God promises rest to those who believe in Him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto me and rest;
lay down, O weary one, lay down
your head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
weary and worn and sad;
I found in him a resting place,
and he has made me glad.

-Horatius Bonar

May you find in Jesus the rest that your soul longs for.


PS. My family and I have been saying Compline over zoom for a few weeks now. Compline is the last of the four Daily Offices and includes prayers that are always timely, but even mores so given this season of uncertainty. Compline takes about 10 minutes to pray, and its focus is on resting in the peace of Christ. If you are interested in joining my family for Compline over Zoom, email me at , and I will send you the link.
  • Be on the look out for a phone call from Church Receptionist Becky Arthur or other staff members, as we update our Realm directory.