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July 23rd, 2018

Sermon: God & Jesus Rested; We Should Also

A Sermon preached at Church of St. Andrew’s in Arlington, VA on July 22, 2018
9 Pentecost, Year B (RCL): Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

I speak to you in the Name of God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

         Jesus said to his disciples, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while."
         I don't know if we value rest and relaxation enough.  Rather, we seem to make a virtue of unceasing labor; we boast about how busy we are, as if the hectic pace of our lives is proof that we're important and significant.  We feel guilty when we're not working, and maybe even envious of those able to step away from the grindstone.
         I say this to highlight the way we approach work and leisure.  Because God is quite interested in the matter of rest.  To God, rest is not just wasted time when we could be doing something useful and productive.  No, rest properly understood has value, worth and purpose.  It's essential to our physical, mental and spiritual well-being.  I hope we all will examine the balance of work and rest in our lives; and not only the quantity, but the quality of our rest, to see if it's what we need.  And perhaps more importantly, if the balance of work and rest we experience in our lives is pleasing and acceptable to God.
         First, let's establish that the Lord God rests.  Anything that God does is a good thing.  We hear that again and again in the creation account in the Book of Genesis.  No one would accuse God of being lazy or unproductive.  Yet the Bible tells us clearly that both God the Creator and Christ the Redeemer regularly took time for rest.
         Why does the Bible tell us this?  Because the balance of work and rest that we see in God's creative activity is intended to be a model for us.  Whether or not you believe we should set aside the seventh day of each week as a formal day of rest, Scripture tells us we should follow a regular pattern of ceasing from our labors.  It tells us a lifestyle of uninterrupted labor, day after day, is not good for us, nor is it pleasing to the Lord.  In other words, if God chose to rest, then we should also.  We should strive to follow God's good example.
         In the same way, we see that Jesus rested also. Read more...Collapse )