Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
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Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
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OR and EE

July 22nd:

Call:           Psalm 89 (807)
Text:           Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56

                                "OR" and "EE"

Last week,              I started with an apology.
This week,              I start with a confession.

My confession is:       that I am not very bright.

Now, I am going to tell you why.

And because I am going to tell you why,
        I want this to be clear:
                I am not inviting you to buttress my thesis
                I am not looking for concurring opinions
                I am not looking for any of you to take this manuscript and attach to it several pages of examples that confirm my statement.

Should I choose to repeat the phrase, "I'm not very bright"
        I do not want to hear you break out into a chorus of "Amens"
And     I do not want to find any of you fainting while proclaiming
                 "Hallelujah and Thank You God, Jim finally got it right."

Now that the rules are clear
I can tell you today that I am not very bright based on one thing:
                I wore myself out this past year.
Actually I need to be more specific:
I wore myself out this past year
        Despite knowing better.

I wore myself out this past year
        Because of my enthusiasm for what I have the honor and privilege of doing
        Because I care about what I do here and want to do it well
        Because I take my call and its responsibilities seriously

And I wore myself out this past year
        Because I paid attention to only part of the lesson in this morning's text.

I suspect that others could easily fall into this trap as well.

During this last appointment year (July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012)
I only took ¾ of my four weeks (28 days) of vacation

Except for ten days in August and five days in June
The remainder of the days I did take were scattered
And out of the 21 days that I took, only one was a Sunday.
I preached              and prepared to preach  every Sunday but one.

I was my choice.  I made the decision.
I chose and decided to do so
        Despite my knowing that at least two weeks of vacation
                Should be taken successively
                For it is not usually until the second week
that one begins to rest
Let me explain how this morning's scripture contributed to my foolishness.

Today's scripture is from the 6th chapter of Mark
        If we just read the scripture itself, it doesn't immediately impress
        We need to look at it in context.

The chapter is a part of Mark's telling of Christ's ministry in Galilee
It begins with Christ's rejection in Nazareth   [couple of weeks ago]
Which, in turn, was followed a few verses later
by the death of JTB                             [last week]

With those two stories setting the stage
we come to the first part of this morning's text        [6: 30-34]

What we have here, therefore, is Jesus and the disciples
Weary from their work
Wounded by his rejection in Nazareth
And drained by the death of the one who announced his presence
setting out to rest for a while

They went to a deserted place in the hope of getting that rest.

In a sense, they went on vacation.

BUT             Many saw them leave and hurried to meet them
                Some even arriving ahead of Jesus and the twelve.

When Jesus arrived he saw them

He could have said to the disciples,
        "Let's go some place else, boys."
But he didn't.

He could have said to the crowd,
        "I'm exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I cannot help you today."
But he didn't

Instead, Jesus had compassion on them
        Because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
So he began to teach them many things.

Do you know what happened after that?    [this is not in our text either]
It got late and the people got hungry
        So Jesus fed them from the five loaves of bread and the two fish.

It was only after feeding them,
 that he sent the disciples to the other side of the sea.
While he remained to dismiss the crowd.

Then in verse 46 (not scheduled to be a part of the text, but necessary,
        "After saying farewell to them,
he went up on the mountain to pray"

After some time, he rejoined the disciples by walking to them - across the water.

Finally, we return to the rest of the text      [6: 53-56]

Aren't you at least a bit surprised that our text does not include either
        The feeding of the five thousand
Or      Jesus walking on the water?

They are two of the most famous stories about Jesus
        Like the rejection at Nazareth and the death of JTB
        They are colorful, impressive, meaningful stories

But they are left out
We mention them today only for context to understand what remains.

And what remains
seems like stage directions surrounding the famous stories

But the verses that make up our text are not stage directions.

They are subtle lesson teachers
Teaching lessons which we might have ignored if we had included
the better known,       more immediately impressive,    stories.

Look at what is included:
A physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted Jesus
                Worn out by the events that had taken place
Overcame all that when he saw people who needed him.

Instead of thinking, "Oh, no!  How can I avoid them?"
        Or "Oh, no, I guess I have to spend some time with them."

Jesus had compassion on them
        And that compassion caused him to sit down and teach them.
This lesson of the self sacrificing Jesus is an inspiring example.
I know it has long inspired me.

It is an image of Jesus that I have when I try to see when to take vacation
        "I can't be gone that Sunday or that Sunday or that Sunday
                Because this is going to take place
                Because this Sunday is a special Sunday"
And on and on and on.

The scripture shows
That Jesus saw that the crowds needed him
That Jesus needed rest from his work
                But that he sacrificed to give the crowd what they needed.

During the appointment year that ended just three weeks ago
        I saw needs and responsibilities
and I attempted to be like Jesus
in sacrificing myself to try to fulfill those needs.

In doing so, I wore myself out.

I had seen that Jesus deserved rest so much more than I do
        Yet he still took time out for the crowd
And so I asked myself,
"Why shouldn't I limit my vacation so that I can be here for people?"

Part of the answer to me should be, "But Jim, you're not Jesus."
        You may be his servant, but you certainly are not his equal."

It is accurate.  It is a good answer.
Jesus knew that his disciples were not as strong as he
After teaching and feeding the multitude
He first sent the disciples away
While he remained to dismiss the crowd

And then he went up the mountain to pray.

But as accurate and as good as it is, the answer is only part of the lesson.

We also have to recognize that Jesus knew he needed a break
        If Jesus needed the break,
you and I should not be reluctant to recognize the same thing.

And so our lesson from what seem like stage directions
        Includes the lesson that Jesus needed rest
        And that even though he delayed it, he took steps to get it

[I needed to have paid more attention to that part of the lesson.]

These "stage directions" also show us that
        While Jesus needed rest from work
        He did not need rest from worship
In fact, worship was an essential part of his rest and refueling
        What did he do on that mountain?        He prayed!

Likewise it is essential that we recognize
        As this less drama devoid text teaches us
That the purpose of rest is to refuel, reinvigorate, and restore us
        So that we can, like Jesus in the story, can resume work.

If we do not, then we have wasted both the rest and our time this morning

In law we often use "or" at the end of a word
to signify the person doing
And "ee" at the end of a word to signify the person receiving.
        Like "lessor" or "lessee"

I used those letters in the message title to remind us that, like Jesus,
   we need to be both comforter and comfortee
   we need to help others with their needs and yet we need to rest as well.

Of course, when spell check reminded me that
        Comforter is spelled with an "er" rather than an "or"

I found myself presenting to you even more evidence
        "That I am not very bright."

I do hope though that we take from this scripture
        The lessons about the need for rest that we all have
Including
        Jesus' example of self sacrifice
                Even while admitting that we are not as strong as he
Also including though,
        That even if we must delay our rest, we need to get it
        That rest includes worship and is not from worship
        That rest is to restore us and to prepare us to resume our work

I do hope also  that you forget the evidence that I have supplied
Supporting the idea that I am not very bright.