Come Away with Me

Rev. Dr. David D. M. King

The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Come Away With Me, v.1, 2202
Come away with me to a quiet place,
apart from the world with its frantic pace,
to pray, reflect, and seek God’s grace.
Come away with me.  Come away.

Jesus and the disciples have been very busy. You might remember two weeks ago when we read about Jesus sending the twelve out in pairs to proclaim the good news to the world. And they did. They went out two by two proclaiming a message of life transformation. They even cast out demons and healed sick people, just like Jesus And, they stirred up enough trouble to catch the attention of King Herod, who thinks that John the Baptist must have been brought back from the dead if so much is happening.

And now they’re back, they’ve gathered themselves together along with Jesus. And they’re reporting to him all of the things that they’ve been doing and that they’ve been teaching the people.  I can almost hear them now. “Let me tell you, Jesus, we’ve been busy. We’ve traveled all over the countryside and into the cities, telling people about your message. And we’ve been performing miracles too, to make sure they understand that you’re the real thing. We’ve been doing everything that you told us to do, and we haven’t stopped to rest at all. There’s just been no time with all the work we’ve been doing. We haven’t even taken time out to eat. No, we’ve just been picking up a quick bite at the McDonald’s drive-through on the way to our next preaching engagement.”

Oh yes, they’ve just been busy, busy, busy.

Come Away With Me, v.2, 2202
Come and pray with me on a gentle sea,
on top of a hill in the Galilee,
in gardens like Gethsemane.
Come away with me.  Come away.

Busy, busy, busy. Our society tells that if we’re not busy, then we must be lazy. We need to get things done, be productive, make change. And many of our Christian ideals tell us the same thing. We need to make disciples, be in mission, fight for peace and justice. We need to give everything that we have to God, deny ourselves and turn over our lives in service to our Lord. Just about everywhere we go, we’re told to do more, give more, make more, and send more. COVID has changed the pace of lives a bit, it takes it own toll. It can be as much of a burden as a scheduled filled with appointments.

With all of this responsibility, we’re liable to come down with a complex. And we have lots of different ways of describing what that complex might be. We’re burned out. Or we’re drained. We’ve been burning the candle at both ends. We’re spent. We’re running on empty. We’re worn out. Our well is dry.

Do you notice that all of those expressions have to do with trying to do something without the necessary resources. Burned out—we’ve used up the last of our rocket fuel. Drained—there’s no more fuel left. Burning the candle at both ends so that there isn’t enough wax to keep us going.  Spent—all of our resources are gone. Running on empty. Our well is dry—there’s no water to be found.

Just like the expressions imply, we try to do things without having enough of the necessary resources. We try to start our engines or ignite our thrusters without the necessary fuel. We seek to bring water to the thirsty when we are drained and our well is dry. We try to spend when there is nothing left in our spiritual bank accounts. We do it in our personal lives, we do it in our business lives, and we do it with God.

But what is the spiritual fuel that we are lacking? How can we replenish our dwindling water supply? What would it look like to make a spiritual deposit?

Come Away With Me, v.3, 2202
Come today with thoughts of the countless ways
that God’s steadfast love blesses all our days,
and join with me in silent praise.
Come away with me.  Come away.

And Jesus says to the disciples, “Whoa. Hold on just a minute. Take a nice, deep, cleansing breath. You’re working yourselves into the ground. Take a break. Let’s go off to a secluded, deserted place and rest for a while. Take a break from everything that is weighing on you.”

But it’s not that easy for them to get away from it all. They set off in the boat to head to a secluded place, but the crowd is waiting for them when they get there. Now, at this point, you’d have to check your Bibles at the sixth chapter of Mark to see what happens, because, there’s a gap in the reading assigned for us this morning. We know from vs. 34 that Jesus has compassion on the crowd and begins to teach them. So we might think, “Well, even Jesus and the disciples couldn’t get a rest. They just had to keep on working because the crowds kept mobbing them. So why should we think that we have an excuse to rest?”

But if you keep reading at vs. 35, you’ll notice a couple of things. The first is that Jesus is about to feed the five thousand. They’d gone off into the hinterland to try to get away, so when the crowd follows them out there, there’s nowhere to get any food. The disciples want Jesus to close up shop, to send them all home. Now, we usually explain this by saying that the disciples just didn’t want to spend the money to get food for the whole crowd. But don’t forget that we’ve just been told that the disciples haven’t been taking any time to sit down and eat at all. That’s one of the main reasons that Jesus drags them out into the boonies in the first place, because they hadn’t been taking time to eat. The disciples don’t seem to understand the power of having a meal together. And they don’t want to spend what little resources that they have on what they would consider a waste: a sit-down meal with Jesus’s followers.

Jesus has a different idea. He sees people who are hungry and he feeds them. He takes the limited resources and spends them in an unconventional way. He has everyone sit down together, give thanks, break bread, and eat together.

But there’s another thing to notice. Once Jesus does dismiss everyone, he sends the disciples out in the boat alone. That’s very odd, isn’t it? Jesus stays behind on the deserted mountain and spends the whole night praying. He takes time out by himself before he continues on his mission with his disciples. That’s where we get the story of Jesus walking on water, because he has to rejoin his disciples in the boat after he had stayed behind to be alone.

So even though it was very difficult to find that time alone, Jesus was sure to make the time for himself, even abandoning his disciples so that he could have a personal retreat, all by himself and God.

Come Away With Me, v.4, 2202
Come and say, in words whispered from your soul,
the feelings and actions you can’t control.
Your spirit needs to be made whole.
Come away with me.  Come away.

So what does it mean for us? What are we supposed to do to recharge ourselves, to fill up our reserves? Should we go off all by ourselves into the wilderness so that we can spend the whole night in prayer? Maybe we should. How many of you have ever taken a solitary retreat to be alone for an extended period with just yourself and God? If you haven’t it might be something to consider.

And what other options do we have? There’s another thing that is explicitly listed in the scripture: we can take time for meals. It’s a pretty simple thing, really, to sit down, maybe with loved ones, and enjoy a meal. Not just eat for the sake of taking in necessary calories, but to actually spend the time to enjoy the meal. We often miss out on the little miracles that can happen at a simple meal because we just don’t want to take the time. Just like the disciples, who almost missed the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand because they didn’t think it was worthwhile, we often fail to really be fed, not just physically, but also spiritually, when we sit down to break bread.

That doesn’t mean that satisfying spiritual hunger is as simple as just saying, “Sit down and have meals together.” That’s just one idea of something that might help fill your spiritual reserves. But different people seem to be fed spiritually in different ways. For you, it might mean taking a walk, or it might mean watering the garden. It might mean watching the sunset or knitting a blanket. It might mean indulging in a good novel or walking a labyrinth, or camping, or reading the bible, or watching the birds, or praying, or singing, or doing yoga. The Holy Spirit can work in so many different ways that it would be impossible to list them all. But Jesus does ask us to come away to a deserted place, to spend the time that it takes to replenish our spiritual supply, even if it seems like a waste of time. It doesn’t really matter where you find that quiet place. But it is very important that you find it. Come away with God and be fed, be refreshed, be made whole.

Come Away With Me, v.5, 2202
Come away with me to a quiet place,
to God’s loving arms waiting to embrace
all those who come in hope of grace.
Come away with me.  Come away.

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