November 10, 2013 Mark 6:30-34; 53-56
There are lessons in life that we seem to have to learn over and over again.
That may be why the lectionary, which suggests scripture passages for us
to preach on each week, is repeated every three years. Even though I donʼt
strictly preach by the lectionary, there are those times when I look at it and
say “Not that again!” but other times I realize, “Yeah, I needed that
Iʼm pretty sure Jesus had a stump speech. His followers didnʼt always get it
the first time, and even if they did, some life lessons are easy to forget - or
ignore. The story weʼre hearing today appears in all four gospels in one
form or another, and variations on its theme are scattered throughout the
So, letʼs hear what Mark has to say in Chapter 6:30-34; 53-56
Mark 6:30-34; 53-56
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done
and taught. He said to them, ʻCome away to a deserted place all by
yourselves and rest a while.ʼ 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 market-places, and begged him
that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it
Time Out!!! Any of you ever used that expression with your kids, or
grandkids? Need I ask? Go, sit in your room and BE QUIET!
How do you know when your world is spinning out of control? What are
those tell tale signs that tell you you need to take a time out? Time outs
arenʼt just for kids. We adults have hissy fits too. As some of you may, or
will discover, if I donʼt get my time outs I may get cranky.
Have you ever gotten in an elevator, pushed the button and nothing seems
to happen? Push it again - nothing. You start looking for the door close
button. Ever done that? Know how long it takes for the average elevator
door to close? - 2 to 4 seconds.
Or, youʼre behind a car stopped at a red light. The light changes and the
car in front of you doesnʼt move. The driver is talking on his cell phone. You
finally lay on the horn and he finally moves. Just as you put your foot on the
accelerator, the light turns red again. Ever been there?
I was once waiting in line at the grocery store and the person in front of me
went to pay and dumped out a purse full of change - coins. Honest! - it
happened. My groceries were waiting on the beltway and there were
people behind me. I was trapped.
Iʼm sure you all have stories like these. We are a society in a hurry, with no
time to waste, and we certainly donʼt want anyone else wasting our time.
Back when I lived in the San Fernando Valley in L.A., when I would drive to
a friendsʼ house, there were speed bumps in her neighborhood about every
half block. People tend to drive fast in L.A., when theyʼre not stuck in traffic.
These speed bumps became my reminder to slow down. But not only that,
- how I responded to these speed bumps were a reminder of just how fast
and out of control my life was at that moment.
Think of all the modern inventions that are supposed to save us time so we
can cram more into our already overfilled daily lives. I used to blame the fax
machine for making us speed up, but itʼs now a relic of a bygone age.
There was a time, not long ago, when I was feeling, “Donʼt anybody ask me
to do one more thing! Iʼm already on over load!” How many of you have felt
that way recently? Those over 75 - maybe not.
What are you juggling these day? (solicit answers)
Theyʼre all important, right? but one more thing and you feel like youʼre
being pushed over the edge. Major stress. And how do you respond? - you
snap at your kids, who need and want your attention - or your spouse - or
the guy sitting in the car in front of you not moving - or an inanimate object,
like an elevator.
In the story we read this morning, Jesus and his disciples were putting in a
full days work. In Jesusʼ case he always seems to be on call 24/7, and he
knew this wasnʼt good for his health. Throughout the gospels we find him
slipping off for a little “time out”.
Matthew tells us “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on
the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there
alone.” (Matt. 14:23)
In Luke; “But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad;
many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases.
But he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.” (Luke 5:15-16)
Jesus taught by his word, but also by his example. “Learn from me”, he
tells his disciples, “and you will find rest for your souls.”
Wayne Muller, in his beautiful, ʻmust readʼ book, “Sabbath” tells us,
“Jesus ... did not offer seven secret coping strategies to get work done
faster, or nine spiritual stress management techniques to enhance our
effectiveness. Instead he offered the simple practice of rest as a natural,
nourishing and essential companion to our work.”
Jesus took one look at his disciples. He recognized that glazed over look
when theyʼd been working too many hours - giving their all - forgetting to
eat - or just not taking the time - waking up in the middle of the night
reviewing their do-do list for the next day. He knew the importance of
Sabbath, for them, and for us.
ʻCome away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.ʼ 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.
Resting is essential to our health. We know that. Researchers have told us
we need eight hours of sleep a night on average. Theyʼve discovered that a
runner becomes faster by taking a day off from training each week.
My mentor in seminary told me that his mentor told him that if he didnʼt
have time to spend an hour each day with God, then he needed to spend
I was having trouble finding that hour, so I finally gave myself a week, three
days of it spent mostly in silence on the beach. I came back replenished,
but then realized I needed to find that hour each day now that I had
returned. You canʼt just store it up and expect it to last. It needs to be a
But this isnʼt what society is telling us. My sister, who works as a claims
adjuster for an insurance company tells me that in corporate America, if you
get sick and canʼt come in to work, itʼs counted as a vacation day. If you get
sick, youʼre deprived of vacation time, which further jeopardizes your
I-phones, I-pads, computers have allowed work to come home with us, or
accompany us on vacations. Friends of mine have described how their
father/husband spends his time on vacation on his blackberry working,
ignoring his wife and daughter, and pretty much everything they came to
see. What is that doing to valuable family time?
Thereʼs that old saying, “The best things in life are free”, but the best things
in life take time. They canʼt be hurried. Some fall in love at first sight, but
real love takes time to nourish and grow.
Muller wisely points out that “Our core human values, the deepest and best
of who we are (honesty, courage, kindness, civility, wisdom, compassion)
require the nourishment of time and care, if we are to grow and flourish.”
Jesus knew this and practiced it.
Thatʼs where he got the strength and compassion and wisdom to teach and
heal the unending throngs of needy people who stalked him like the
paparazzi do our celebrities today, laying in wait. He doesnʼt rebuke the
crowds here or send them away, but he points out to his disciples the
importance of balancing “being and doing.” They didnʼt get to enjoy a
deserted place once they got out of the boat, but they would have had
some hours of solitude traveling across the lake - time to rest and
One translation of the biblical phrase “to pray” is “to come to rest,” In our
tradition “prayer can be a practice of simply being in the presence of God,
allowing the mind to rest in the heart.” That could be as simple as curling
up on the couch with your two year old, or taking your dog for a long walk
on the beach - taking time where you donʼt have to be productive, racing to
meet deadlines, accomplishing something - where youʼre just valued for
Way back in the 5th century B.C.E., Lao-tzu, the wise author of a little book
of wisdom called Tao Te Ching (Dow Deh Jing), spoke of his society this
If a country is governed wisely...
People enjoy their food,
take pleasure in being with their families,
spend weekends working in their gardens,
delight in the doings of the neighborhood.
What would it take to revive those values? What could we do to create a
Sabbath for ourselves? The Orthodox Jews may have the right idea, just
turn off the electronics, hang up the car keys and just be, with yourself and
family and friends and God. While I was on sabbatical, I gave up television
and the news for three whole months. What a difference that made!
What is one thing you can do, today, to create a sabbath for yourself when
you leave this sanctuary? Letʼs hear some ideas. (pass mike)
If you havenʼt thought of anything, hereʼs an idea from the writer of Psalm
23: The Lord is my shepherd. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He
leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
Have a relaxing afternoon. Letʼs begin by singing together “Come and Find
a Quiet Center”. Itʼs #575 in the Red Chalice Hymnal