This week many of you will gather with family to celebrate all that God has blessed you with. You will sit around a table full of food, give thanks and break bread together with those you love. And, when the tryptophan-induced coma kicks in, I’d imagine you will…rest…
Rest is a concept that seems extremely unfamiliar for worship leaders and other church leaders during this time of year as we prepare for the Advent season. The rehearsals 3-4 times per week for the 3-4 Christmas Eve services the church offers, organizing the special music, the kids choir, the dance team, the skits, the video specials…well, it can leave you feeling drained and weary. And, while many of us would like to just put on the most fantastically comfortable pair of pjs, crawl under our covers and sleep for the next 2 months, we just don’t have that luxury!
I, along with many of you, have read Mark 6 several times, and the theme of “rest” hasn’t necessarily jumped out at me. After all, this is the story of Jesus feeding a crowd of five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. 5,000 people…chasing after Jesus and his disciples…after they had spent all day ministering to the people of Nazareth, healing the sick, preaching repentance and casting out demons. That sounds exhausting!
What stood out to me though were verses 30-34. After a morning full of ministry, and just before being mobbed by the crowds, scripture says,
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”
In the midst of an endless stream of people approaching them in need, Jesus carved out special time for his disciples to rest with him. And though the time seemed to be cut short by the continuous demand of ministry, I would bet that the disciples felt rejuvenated and refreshed from that brief moment in quiet with their savior.
The point is that God knows what we need, and we all need rest, even amid the whirlwind of a busy Christmas season. You might feel as if you’re running on empty, but I hope this can be an encouragement to you, during the service planning, preparation and hard work, that Jesus wants to steal you away, even for just a moment to give you the rest you truly need. Keep your hearts and ears open to that still small voice, and allow yourself to rest in the presence of our savior.
The first verse of the song, “I Will Rest In You” says:
Shepherd of my weary soul
You’re my comfort, You’re my hope
I can hear You call my name
Lead me to that quiet place
I will rest in You
If you have a moment, I’d encourage you to listen to this song and really let it be a prayer that God would give you the “rest” you need in the midst of the busyness.