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. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 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.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 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. Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Teaching and healing were two aspects of Jesus’ presence and ministry which were so compelling that people followed him wherever he went, even when he tried to go to a more isolated place away from the crowds. Jesus and the disciples found it difficult to get away for rest and renewal. And yet, no matter what happened, Jesus, with the disciples, continued to serve and care and teach – and they continued to seek and take time away.
This balance of intense ministry and service with needing time away for refreshment and renewal is a vital part of any ministry and any work we do. When the needs of our community and world are so strong and the message of the grace and love of Jesus is so compelling, how do we take time for ourselves? When our daily work demands so much of us and our volunteer work through the church or other organizations asks so much of us, how dare we take time away? It’s easy for many of us to get so caught up in the compelling needs and demands of others and our ministry, that it’s hard to imagine that we can take time for rest and renewal. Yet, if we don’t take the time for refreshing renewal, eventually we lose energy, and our spirits wear thin (this is often called burn-out).
As you learn from and follow the grace-filled, enlivening, healing message and touch of Jesus Christ, where do you find the energy and vitality for becoming a teaching and healing disciple? In what ways do you find renewal and rest? How do you find ways for renewal throughout the day? What are activities (or non-activities) which help sustain you and make you feel more buoyant? In what ways can you remind yourself to take a mini-rest or micro-breather right now? How balanced is your work, family, volunteer, spiritual care, sabbath and renewal time?
The teaching and healing which Jesus gave and continues to give us is so compelling that we want to follow wherever Jesus leads in our lives – and we can follow Jesus even into the wilderness, into new paths of discipleship, into renewal time apart.
Holy and wondrous God, we want to learn from Jesus. We want to touch Jesus, even if it’s only the hem of his cloak. We want to follow Jesus into places for rest and renewal. And we want to live as Jesus taught. Help us to be teachers and healers and pray-ers, so we might bring your hope and grace and blessing into the lives of all who are in need. We pray in the name of the one who taught us how to live and pray – Jesus Christ. Amen.