By Rev. Heather J. Blais
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Today we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Andrew. In the gospel, we hear the story of how four fisherfolk become followers of Jesus. Two of them are our guys; Andrew, who is working alongside his brother Simon, and James, who is working alongside his brother John. Jesus invites all of them into a new way of life, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”
They immediately left their nets, their boats, their very way of life, all to follow this stranger who would turn the world upside down and right side up.
Within scripture, we see that following Jesus is an all or nothing experience for those first disciples. There was so much that needed to be done to help transform the world into a better place. The disciples’ work focused on spreading the good news of God’s love and compassion, healing the sick, and helping the establishment think about why they do things the way they do. Since there is so much of the story left between the lines of scripture, we are left to wonder, did these disciples ever take a rest or were they caught up in the go-go-going way of the movement?
We know a bit about go-go-going, don’t we? Nearly the entire congregation played a role to ensure the Mistletoe Mart & Craft Faire was a success yesterday. We have fun and enjoy the fellowship, but the primary reason for this event is because the funds raised sustain our outreach and mission. It ensures that we have the resources we need to live into programs, such as Whitney’s Pantry, Bread of Life, Cathedral in the Light, St. Andrew’s Guild, our Health Ministry, Emmaus Companions, Church World Service, and much more. We are trying to live into Jesus’ command to feed the hungry, care for the sick, clothe the naked, and to walk alongside those pushed to the margins of our society. We are trying to see the Christ within each and every person we encounter in the walls of this campus and beyond.
This work is constant. Then you mix in commitments to family and friends for the holidays, as well as to other organizations, and the go-go-going of our lives can feel a bit like a rollercoaster that’s gone off its tracks. Particularly for any of us who are inclined to understand our self worth by how much we do. We find we are in the middle of a one way ticket to burn out.
Yet the thing is, any relationship we have with another person is only as healthy as the least healthiest member in the relationship.** The same is true for our ministry teams. Any ministry team in the church is only as healthy as the least healthiest member of the team. Which means if we are setting ourselves up to be burnt out, we are setting up our relationships and ministry teams to struggle. This is not what God wants for us or for creation.
I’d like to share a story I recently came across which invites Andrew, James, and all followers of Jesus to slow down a bit.
We are invited to ensure we have put on our own oxygen mask, before we seek to help others.
A hearty and healthy pause as we seek to go-go-go the way of love.
Jesus’ Day Off by Nicholas Allan (if you listen to the sermon, the story is read in the audio).
What happened when Jesus took time for rest and renewal? (This is not rhetorical)
We know that Jesus routinely withdrew from the crowd to go and ensure his own well was full. It was the only way to sustain his life and work.
During this next week, which I know will surely be chaotic for some--how might each of us slow down and rest? Jesus found that fruits grew during his time of rest, because sometimes we only need to let things be for a bit. What might blossom if we were to try such a radical idea as rest? Amen.
**This idea that we are only ever as healthy as the least healthy member in a relationship originated for me from the writing of Rob and Kristen Bell's, The Zimzum of Love: A new way of understanding marriage.
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