Jesus was arguably a busy person, one who travelled a lot, healed people, and taught on hillsides and in places like boats and temples. What I also know about Jesus is that he believed in rest. He modelled how to recognize and tend to fatigue. He not only craved solitude but created time for it. I suspect he valued a good nap.
As the crowds gathered around Jesus and the disciples at the Sea of Galilee, he said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile”. It might seem a surprising directive given that people were pressing in with many needs and deep longing for connection. However, Jesus’ love and wisdom knew that space for recuperation after a very busy time was necessary.
As someone who can easily get very busy, I am drawn to Jesus and his desire to withdraw. I know he experienced hunger, grief and weariness. And though he is God, none of those things made him ‘less than’. As humans it is important to discover that doing is good, but not at the cost of being. Our value cannot only be found in our work.
In the first book of the Bible we learn that God rested after the work of creation and asked us to do the same. Sabbath (meaning rest) is a gift. But how often do I forget about it or resist it? As we complete a very busy season at The Dale, I find myself ready to sink into the gift of rest. I recently heard someone refer to the rhythms and borders of life. I like that. We need to live into the tension that exists in all things.
The baby born on Christmas is the Jesus who, throughout the entirety of his life, modelled how to honour work and rest. He challenged his disciples to retreat, even when all they wanted to do was enthusiastically keep working. And in doing so, he was protecting them- from exhaustion, from the public eye, from thinking it was all up to them.
The longest night of the year was this week. I know for many the nights have felt long and dark for much, if not all, of this year. As I sat in the darkness of the Solstice, my wonder grew at how the light begins to lengthen just before Christmas. The light is about to burst forth, penetrating the darkness and we don’t have to do anything to make it happen, nor can we stop it. We are invited to just sit in the glow. May it fill us up for our continued work.