Come Away and Rest – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim WoodrumMark 6:30-34

A friend of mine recently e-mailed me a maxim which read, ‘Work tip:  Stand up.  Stretch. Take a walk. Go to the airport.  Get on an airplane.  Never return.’  I sometimes wonder if this is what Jesus and his disciples felt like in their own ministry.  When you read the gospel of Mark, one thing you will notice straight away is the fevered pace with which Jesus and his disciples move in their ministry.  After Jesus is baptized, Mark writes that the Spirit immediately drives Jesus into the desert to be tempted by Satan.  He then begins his ministry, chooses his disciples, heals a man with an unclean spirit, heals Simon’s mother-in-law and then others who catch wind of Jesus power.  He then begins a preaching tour through Galilee and cleanses a leper he encounters along the way.  And this is just the first chapter and in as little as 870 words!

We’re now in chapter six and we read that Jesus’ disciples have been out on their own preaching, teaching, healing, and casting out demons.  They have met up with Jesus again and you can sense their child-like excitement as they begin to recount how they had put to use all that He had been teaching them.  With all this commotion around them they had not even had time to attend to their own needs of sustenance and rest.  We then hear Jesus tell them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”  The sigh of relief is palpable as we read that they got in a boat and set sail for the other side.  Can you identity with Jesus and the disciples?  Have you ever had one of those days or even weeks that just doesn’t seem to stop?

As we read on, we find that this respite is short-lived.  The crowds see them depart and estimate just where they will arrive on the other side.  It is helpful to know that the Sea of Galilee is not a sea at all but rather a large lake.  The crowds rush around to the other side by foot and are there to greet this itinerant rabbi and his disciples on the other side.  I can only imagine the frustration and perhaps disappointment they had when they realized that their Sabbath was short-lived.   But we read that Jesus had compassion for the crowd ‘because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.’  He saw their need and like a good shepherd began to share with them once again from his abundance.  The passage that follows today’s lesson recalls the feeding of the five thousand.

So what can we take away from today from this excerpt from Mark’s gospel?  Well I think we hear an affirmation from Jesus of the need for Sabbath; not only a time for rest, but a time for rest with God.  If you have ever been on a pilgrimage, you will know that the time immediately following the journey is a one of rest, recollection, and especially remembering:  a time to unpack and then put the pieces back together again (re-member) in order to see the complete picture, to find meaning, to integrate the experience into your life, and to share that experience with Jesus in prayer.  Our founder Richard Meux Benson once wrote:  “As a child delights to bring some new possession to a mother’s lap to show what it has got, and to rejoice in the loving smile with which it is welcomed, so must we bring every joy of our outer life to the loving eye of God.  That eye will not disparage the joy of this state of earth, and that loving Father will welcome us as we come to Him to be a partner of our joy, because He is the author of all causes of rejoicing.”[i]

Indeed, not only our joy, but I think also the trials, tribulations, desires, and our own need for being ‘re-membered.’  Sometimes we need to share with God those things that are just too heavy to bear; to ask God for sustenance for the next leg of the journey, and to rest in the comfort of his stillness, because life will move on feverishly, whether we’re ready or not.  Sometimes this may only be a moment where we intentionally break away for a pause to say ‘help!’

In a moment, we’ll gather around the altar and pray the ‘Great Thanksgiving.’  Bring something from your journey to share with Jesus, whether it be a joy, a desire, a need, or something that is burdening you that you need to leave behind.  Then stretch out your hands and receive a piece of bread and a sip of wine, and a moment of stillness; sustenance for the next leg of the journey.  Jesus is our good shepherd, full of compassion and a he will supply our need.

[i]  Benson, Richard Meux. Instructions on the Religious Life. A. R. Mowbray and Company, 1935.

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  1. jeff mcnary on February 7, 2023 at 06:21


  2. Janie McNew on February 20, 2020 at 09:32

    Thank you for the thought to re-member!

  3. Katherine Pastre on February 12, 2019 at 08:04

    Yesterday it seemed impossible that I would make it through my long list of responsibilities at work and home, and it crossed my mind that only “resting with God” would bring relief. But I didn’t.
    Your message this morning was meant for me. Including the funny work advice, which absolutely drew me in. Thank you for getting me centered.

  4. Jeanne DeFazio on February 11, 2019 at 10:26

    Thanks for the focus on rest. It heals the soul. I try each morning and night rest in the Lord to feel his presence still before Him. To feel his love compassion and forgiveness. Last night it took along time to get to that place. Bit when I do I feel peace and joy and am set free from the cares of the world. Bless you for this wonderful reflection and comments

  5. Lorna Harris on February 11, 2019 at 09:42

    Having just returned from a retreat, this was exactly what I needed to hear this morning! Re-collection and re-membering are so important. Thank you.

  6. Lucinda Doran on February 11, 2019 at 08:51

    This is a beautiful message. Something to really remember and think about as we share in the Eucharist. Thank you, Brother Jim.

  7. Sally Baynton on February 11, 2019 at 08:06

    I highly recommend taking a Sabbath for one’s own good and for one’s own growth! I do not open my computer on Sundays. I haven’t for a very long time. I use that day to study, pray, other things that should be done. But, I do not allow the “worries of the world” to invade my day. I love my Sabbath!!!!!!

  8. Ruth West on July 29, 2018 at 19:49

    Thank you for this good message. We need to remember that God Himself chose to rest during his time of creation. Jesus certainly repeated it with his followers. REW

  9. Elizabeth Hardy on July 29, 2018 at 08:36

    Thank you BR. Jim. That nicely summed up my sermon on the feeding of the 5,000 for today – we can be bad at sharing. We share the good only once we have satisfied ourselves, and we share the bad only afer we have exhausted all other avenues. The trusting in God is important to surrender our resources – and disasters to His economy – who can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine!

    • Susan Kuhn on February 20, 2020 at 11:06

      Elizabeth, I so love what you wrote: surrendering our resources and disasters to God’s economy. God who can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Right now for me that “more” is actually “less.” The more I trust “God’s economy,” the less frenetic I am; the more time I have to just hang with God, the less effort to enjoy what he makes happen…a virtuous circle! If I were the tattooing sort, mine would be: Be still and know that I am God.

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