Reading: Mark 2:23-28
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food, how he entered the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for humankind and not humankind for the Sabbath, so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
I am writing this, listening to the waves rolling against the sea shore, as my wife and I decided to get away to the beach for a few days. It is not beach season, for sure, as it barely hit 60 degrees today, but that’s OK. Just listening to the calming sound of the waves is balsam for the soul for me. Frankly, the less hustle and bustle, the better.
I know a lot of people who are overworked, and I am not so sure they even know it. I know a lot of pastors who are stressed out, working seven days a week, and still feel there is too much work still to be done, so they better keep going. I am not so sure that is very healthy, not for the pastor, nor for their flock.
I learned early on in my career as a pastor, that if I am going to be a good pastor to the flock, I better make sure I take care of myself first. Not in a selfish kind of way, as in “I am special and deserve more time off than others,” but rather, keeping tabs of my own spiritual and emotional health, so I can be the best pastor I can be to those whom God has entrusted to my spiritual care. It is quite scriptural, as we can see in this reading from Mark. Sometimes, we as human beings can see things in too much of a legalistic way, as in following rules being the primary goal. Jesus, according to Mark, reminds us that it is less about rules, and more about making sure we are OK.
It is OK to take care of ourselves. It is OK to step back just a bit to relax and regroup. What that looks like, is different for all of us. We are not all wired the same. The important part is that we are intentional in observing a sabbath as needed, and that we do take some time to recharge, whether it is getting away to spend time with family and friends, spending a day in the woods by ourselves, gardening, reading a book, listening to music, or whatever. The important part is that we are intentional about recharging our batteries, and not being made to feel guilty about it. For me, by the ocean is where I feel most at peace. This is where I can let things go, and get inspiration for whatever comes next. So, as I am spending some time to recharge, I invite you to make sure you take the time to do the same. The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath.
Holy God. We thank you for the gift of the Sabbath. We live in a busy world with lots of demands on us and our time. So, thank you for reminding us that there are times we also need to step back a bit, to recharge and rest.