A Quiet Place
Mark 6:30-31 (NIV)
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."
2 Samuel 7:1-14a, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
A relaxing trip to the beach is the topic of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book Gift from the Sea. In it, she describes setting off alone for a vacation of solitude by the sea. She becomes contemplative as she picks up various seashells and compares them to the various stages of her life. And part of the experience is the simplicity of her existence at the beach. She escapes for a little while from the whirlwind of caring for five young children, a famous husband, and all the civic and social responsibilities of a woman in the 1940’s and 1950’s. She takes delight in the shedding she is able to do, she is relieved to find that she needs only a small suitcase-full of clothes, instead of a whole closet full. For shelter, she needs only “a bare sea-shell of a cottage.”
No heat, no telephone, no plumbing to speak of, no hot water, no gadgets to go wrong. No rugs. There were some, but I rolled them up the first day; it is easier to sweep the sand off a bare floor. But I find I don’t bustle about with unnecessary sweeping and cleaning here. I am no longer aware of the dust. I have shed my Puritan conscience about absolute tidiness and cleanliness. Is it possible that, too, is a material burden? No curtains. I do not need them for privacy; the pines around my house are enough protection. I want the windows open all the time, and I don’t want to worry about rain. I begin to shed my Martha-like anxiety about many things. Washable slipcovers, faded and old—I hardly see them; I don’t worry about the impression they make on other people. I am shedding pride. As little furniture as possible; I shall not need much. I shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely honest. I find I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is shy so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask. (31-32)
She describes the delight she takes in the simplicity and beauty she finds in this experience, and the richness it provides her. She encourages other women, and men too, to take a little time away from the busyness of life for quiet contemplation and reflection. She reminds us that Jesus himself spoke of taking time for rest and solitude.
In today’s gospel reading Jesus tells his disciples, “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.
We talk a lot in the church about doing things to please God, but this passage points us to another important truth: that God is pleased with us when we are simply being together. God loves the pleasure of your company, even when you are not busy with anything at all. God is simply delighted to see you here at church this morning, sitting in your chair, looking at the trees. If you don’t remember anything else from today’s sermon, remember this: God says, “Relax. I am delighted to be together with you.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh refers to her Martha-like anxiety about many things, and we remember Jesus’ visit to Martha and Mary. Martha thinks she has to work hard in the kitchen. Jesus tells Martha she doesn’t have to worry about making a fancy meal, he would rather have her come and sit with him. Jesus tells Martha, “Relax. I am delighted to be together with you.”
In our Old Testament reading from 2nd Samuel, we see David who thinks God ought to have a building. David thinks people ought to have a building to go to in order to worship God in God’s house. David decides that he ought to build a house for God. David decides he ought to do this in order to please God. But then God tells David that isn’t what God wants. God tells David, “Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle.” God tells David: it’s not about the buildings. “Relax. I am delighted to be together with you.” God will be with you wherever you go, even when you move from place to place, and God will be delighted that you are spending time together wherever you are.
God is the guest who wants to come in and sit on the faded slipcovers and spend time with us in complete honesty, with no insincerity, no mask. Because God cherishes time with us, just the way we are.
Jesus wants us to set aside all the unfinished tasks in the kitchen, and come sit together and talk and learn, because God enjoys our company.
Jesus invites us
to take a break from the clamoring needs of the world, and come away to a
deserted place by ourselves and rest a while with him. Because Jesus likes
relaxing with us. God doesn’t need a building. God is happy to travel with
us wherever we go. God has been moving about in a tent and tabernacle; God
has been with us wherever we have been. It is a joy to worship a portable
God. It is a joy to be in touch with this traveling God. Because we are
human, we have our anxieties, so God keeps reminding us, “Relax. I am
delighted to be together with you.”
Note: If you are still confused about how a gay Christian can feel they are 'right' with God I encourage you to read the section of the web site entitled "Gay and Christian? YES!"