"Come unto me, all ye that labor, come unto me, all ye that are heavy laden, and ye shall find rest, unto your soul." Matthew 11:28
This verse from Matthew, actually this famous verse set to music in Handel's Messiah, has come to mind over and over in the past few days. Rest is something we don't often think about as being a sign of plenty, a sign of security and abundance. But in my life, being able to rest in comfort, not losing sleep fearing for tomorrow, has been a pretty constant theme. I have been on the road a good bit lately and I don't sleep well in strange places. I don't sleep well if I am thinking about what I need to say or present to an unfamiliar audience. We are a generation of people, the doctors tell us, who don't get enough sleep and it can reek havoc on our health and our relationships. But few leaders in this world are honored for their ability to take time to rest and get a good nights sleep. We only find sleeping a positive attribute in babies. Their rest is essential to the well being of the entire family. And so it is for all of us - but we rarely honor rest, until we are chronically without and then we seek drug therapy.
I have a vision for our times and our church that we can be restful people. People who care for the health of souls and relationships by providing a level of comfort, more than the absence of fear, but a safe place where all people can recharge their bodies and souls. I hear lots of people congratulating each other for how little sleep they can get by on. Those same people are often in maddening whirlwinds of their own making - or at least, of their own ignoring. What if the mark of a great leader was that they could sing a great lullaby? Or that the could bring comfort and calm to a room of anxiety ridden financial analysts? Or even closer to home, a bishop who is able to provide space for all, rather than drawing lines in the sand on every issue? We serve a God who measures the wealth of our lives by the rest and comfort we are offered and receive. May we each have the strength to embrace that rest, take a nap, and gain a new love for the world.