With everything that has been going on between the pandemic and election news you might have missed that the leaves are falling from the trees. After spending some time this weekend raking leaves, I am reminded that no matter how many leaves you rake there will always be a few more that end up in the yard. Even when the lawn and leaf bags run out or the sun sets, there are more leaves on the ground.
If we do not watch out, the boundaries blur and the work becomes all encompassing. Whether it is clearing the yard of leaves, or responding to just one more email, or following up on this last phone call we can quickly find ourselves checking email late at night or working on a project before the sun comes up in the morning. Suddenly it is July or August or maybe even mid-November and we have not taken real time off in months. We tell ourselves that the work is important and as soon as we finish, we will get some rest. But then something else comes up . . .
Interestingly, when we look to the head of the Church to see how we should handle these overfull times we see Jesus setting an interesting example. Even though there is much work to be done, Jesus is gathering with others to share a meal, Jesus is making time to pray, and Jesus is pausing to rest.
So, let us follow the example of Jesus who during his ministry on earth took time to step away, pray, rest, and renew. After feeding the five thousand, Jesus did not move straight to the next big project, instead:
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, - Matthew 14:22-23 (NRSV)
It is time to ask ourselves tough questions,
What did I do this past week that brought me joy or peace or rest?
What renewed me . . . physically, mentally, or spiritually?
When was the last time I really took time off?
Or even more out there, when was the last time I took a vacation?
If we are not making the time to care for ourselves, we will not be able to care for others. It is vital that as we prepare for the coming busy weeks of Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and the end of the calendar year that we make time to prepare ourselves through rest, prayer, and renewal.
The leaves will be there tomorrow, just as the project will be there during regular business hours. Caring for ourselves should not be a one-time action on our to do list that we mark off and then move on. Instead it needs to be part of our daily, weekly, and monthly routine. Refilling and recharging ourselves so that we can serve God and our neighbors.
May you find rest and peace in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ this day and always.
Grace and peace,
Rev. William "Bill" McLean, II
Presbyter for Congregational Care
Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois