No Time to Eat!

“There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his disciples didn’t even have time to eat.” – Mark 6:30-31
 
“The house of my soul is too narrow for Thee to come in; let it be enlarged by Thee. It is is ruins. Do Thou restore it.” – Augustine
 
Dear Friends,
 
As I prepare for this coming Sunday and reflect on the preaching text (Mark 6:30-34; 53-56), I am feeling convicted. In the text, Jesus is teaching the importance of getting away to a quiet place to rest, pray, and be renewed. It was important then. It’s important now. 
 
How many of you are like my family and me, when it seems like our daily lives get so busy that they begin to spin out of control. Between my wife and I we are constantly juggling how we and/or our children will get to the right places at the right time. Balancing work and family is always a juggling act but, as Jesus reminds us in this text, an important one. For as Augustine wrote, we too might identify with his lament, “The house of my soul … is in ruins.” If that is the case, we too, can trust in the Lord to restore it.
 
I’ve heard it said that we are becoming “human doings” rather than “human beings”. One of my favorite “go-to” books on pastoral leadership is “Growing an Engaged Church: How to Stop “Doing Church” and Start BEING the Church Again.” Jesus knew of our need to start BEING again because we tend to DO too much. The disciples in the text were so busy doing their exciting ministry, with many people being healed as they traveled through the villages, that they “didn’t even take time to eat.” (v. 31)
 
Can you relate to these disciples, like I can? Can you think of times in your life when you were literally, too busy to eat? Or, simply too busy to take care of yourself?
 
So, after healing many people and responding to their needs( “The were like sheep without a shepherd” v. 34 ) Jesus invited the disciples to join him on a retreat. He sensed that they needed time away in order to continue ministering. He chose a deserted place for the group to gather. Where might your “deserted place” be? What have been your experiences or impressions of spending time on retreat? What have you gained? How have you been renewed?
 
The story takes a quick, unexpected turn, however, as the disciples and Jesus were surprised to find a crowd waiting for them upon their arrival. So much for their retreat! Yet what I love about this story is that Jesus did not appear upset but instead had compassion/pity on the crowd. They came seeking healing, comfort, and relief. They realized and believed that Jesus had the gift of restoration that they needed. Jesus did not disappoint. He gave them what they sought and they were healed. 
 
As we think ahead to this Sunday, consider those areas in your life that need healing by Jesus. Take a moment of silent prayer as you seek Jesus and his healing. Find ways for extended silent prayer (mini-retreat) to be restored. Think about the choices you make that affect your physical and spiritual health and well-being. Like the disciples, do you need this reminder this week? How will you respond if your attempts at sabbath are interrupted? With compassion, patience, and/or understanding, like Jesus? We have much to learn from this text and I look forward to further unwrapping it on Sunday.
 
I continue to enjoy getting to know you. Some have stopped in the church office and we’ve visited over a cup of coffee. You’re always welcome and the coffee pot is always on (when I’m there). Thank you for your continued patience and forgiveness as I learn who you are and how you go about being the Body of Christ in this place. 
 
I will continue to encourage you to invite friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and anyone you know of who God might be placing on your heart, to come to worship at First UMC. There is much potential in our community and within our congregation for growth, and I am committed to helping make that happen. 
 
Peace and blessings to you and your families. 
See you in Church!
 
Pastor Dale