Weekly comment from the Clergy

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity

20th July 2024

I am struck by some words from tomorrow's gospel. Jesus said to his disciples, Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while. For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat (Mark ch.6).  We are reaching the end of the academic year, and whether or not our lives are governed by its calendar, there is for many a sense of an ending, of things winding down, and the prospect of a time of refreshment and renewal or, at least, life being a little less pressured for a while.  Whether that prospect translates into reality is of course a wholly different thing. Even leisure requires organising and the thought of hotel bookings, travel arrangements and the like never does anything to relax me. On the other hand, stay at home and life has a habit of being overtaken by events.  Yes, it's hard to climb off the merry-go-round but at the same time the hope of it always beguiles us. 

 Jesus' withdrawal from the crowds appears, at first sight, to be of a similar kind. But he was of course deeply familiar with the notion of sabbath rest, something which we have long since lost and would do well to recover. In his times sabbath laws had become oppressive, and a means of exercising control, but there is wisdom in the notion of universal rest. If we all respect it, then we all benefit from it. In our complex and disparate world where doing your own thing   is the aspiration perpetuating a myth of freedom , it often feels that we have to fight for our own space. It is as well then to remember that Jesus was sustained by a greater peace than that offered even by the universal observance of the sabbath. The peace of God which passes all understanding was his sustenance and it can be ours too  even, and perhaps especially, in the midst of life's pressures and demands. Someone once said to me, when we reach the end of our reserves, we are not beyond God's resources. The critical thing is to open out hearts, to live in the expectation that God will indeed sustain, refresh and renew.   

 May his refreshing peace be with you,

Charles Booth

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