“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, . . .”
– Matthew 13:1-3 (NIV)
A Peaceful Life
by Rev. Elizabeth Vincent

Living and working in big cities is exciting, energizing, and stressful – especially when working on major infrastructure projects. One is constantly under the gun to perform, and one has to be ready for anything at any time. Each city and each project brings its own sets of positives and negatives – good, and yet sometimes one just needs to get away for a few moments of uncluttered peace.
These opening verses of Matthew Chapter 13 remind me of how precious I found the Sabbath to be when living and working in Israel. Six days a week we worked, frequently putting in a solid 10 hours. Then came Friday evening, the Sabbath began and lasted all through the next day. The world was quiet. The roads were empty. Families went out for walks. Neighbors chatted with one another sharing and enjoying the company of others.
For me, living alone in a foreign country just learning how to ask for directions around a strange city, I frequently headed for what became my Sabbath places – the beach at Ashkelon during the winter and spring or the northern shores of haYam Kineret (the Sea of Galilee) during the summer or fall. These particular places are tranquil and wonderfully empty at these times. Walking, occasionally wading in the water, or sitting on the shore I could reflect on concerns, puzzling situations, or life.

Upon reading the opening verses of Matthew 13 the memory of languid wavelets lapping in steady rhythm on a sandy shore swept over my entire being. How peaceful. Jesus, in the thick of his three-year ministry has had numerous recent encounters with Pharisees, Scribes, and even his own family members. He is facing so much more in the time ahead. A breeze stirs the air. It is warm, yet fresh – a gentle caress. He stands still and surrenders to this moment of peace. People, his followers, approach hungry for more.

Not wanting to completely relinquish this cherished moment, Jesus moves out into the water and settles down into a small fishing boat that rolls in time with life water’s beating heart. He begins to speak, this time telling the moral tales that are to mark his teaching ministry. He is speaking from his heart. He is speaking from his knowledge. He is speaking from his wisdom. 

Life so cluttered with work, tasks, and planning for what we think we need. I am glad to be reminded of just how precious is our Sabbath Day – our Day of Rest – our Time for Peace.

Thank you, God, for your beautiful creation of life. Life – crowded with people, work, families, tensions, joys, and memories. Open our hearts and minds to receive the wisdom of your teachings in our reflections on your gift of life.