Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sheep without a Shepherd

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

I remember when I was a new mother, especially when there were three girls at home, how easy it was to have a whole day go by and forget to shower, have a real meal or finish any task I had set before me. Those times were incredibly precious and are so long gone now. Then, it seemed like forever that my daughters' needs would be so great and overwhelm me. Now, I miss their constant noise and interruption and wonder how I could have ever minded it at all. They needed me and truly I loved being needed by them.

Jesus recognized how thrilled and exhausted the disciples were from all their ministry. He tried to give them time for respite and sabbath, but the need of the people was so great. They had been so neglected, so shut off from God's love and so controlled by the religious establishment, that they came running at any rumor of his presence. The need of the people was overwhelming and Jesus knew his time was short, and that God would give him the strength and compassion to be present for all of their need. He knew their humanity, both the disciples' and the people, and his desire was to heal them, strengthen them and renew them for the service of others. People are still in need of healing and ministers still in need of respite. Sometimes that means we are to be drenched in work and service, and sometimes we are called to quiet and rest. God is calling us this day to find ways to encourage all of us to be renewed in Christ's love.

Today I ask God for an equal measure of insight and strength. Insight to know how to love and care for others who come to me, and strength to respond to the need and the call. And both to know when to rest and reflect so that I might be a faithful servant at all times. May we all strive for God's insight and strength today, so that all we do might bring healing and renewal for those in need, and bring God's love near to those who have been separated for too long.

The Collect

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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