Daily Office Readings for Tuesday Proper 12 Year 1
“He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” (Mark 6: 31) And: “After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.” (Mark 6:46)
The Gospel passage we have for today is sandwiched between Sabbath times. After the apostles returned from all they had done and taught, but before they participated in feeding the five thousand, Jesus called them to rest, a Sabbath time so as to refresh themselves.
Likewise, after they fed the five thousand he personally dismissed the people and sent his apostles away in a boat. After the dismissal he himself again went up on the mountain to pray.
Recently we have had plenty of the Martha and Mary story. While there is a time for the doing things of Martha, this message is about the importance of reflection time like that that Mary took when Jesus came to visit them. For me, it’s my pondering time.
Many people ask me to pray for them. They think that I have a special connection with God. But I do not, at least not one that anyone can’t have. My special job is to inform people that God seeks time with them. God wants to hear from the people in the pews and the people in the streets. My priestly job is to let people know this good news, this valuable information.
I let them know that they don’t really need anything special, just time set aside for the purpose of being with God. They don’t need a special cross, a Bible, a Prayer Book, Beads, an Icon or painting or a particular piece of music. It is not that these things don’t help, they do. But the most important element is time and to be still and know that God is God, and when called near, God is with you. To quote verse 10 of Psalm 46, “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” There is something about being still that gives God the opportunity to have a more intimate relationship with you and to focus on who, and where you are in your life. Do not think that God cannot be this close with everyone on earth, God can and wants to. God is all encompassing.
One of the things I like to do before each service of the Holy Eucharist is to offer a kind of settling-in prayer as a way of helping the people in the pews prepare themselves for the service that is about to take place. It reads, “O Almighty God, who pourest out on all who desire it the spirit of grace and of supplication: Deliver us, when we draw near to thee, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affections we may worship thee in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” It is found on page 833 of the Book of Common Prayer; prayer number 64. And while I said we do not need a prayer book, or Bible, or Icons or anything in our “alone with God time,” it is nice to have these things for public worship to draw us in with God as the Body of Christ. Jesus kept them together both in the deserted place and on the boat. We need our alone time and our gathered time with God in Christ Jesus. Remember, we are the Church either way.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to (and through) God’s people. John+