Rector's Blog: Are You Tired?
This blog is also available as a podcast.
Can we rest yet? Is it time? The dizzying, never-ending buzz, the exhausting, contentious election season, and the marathon Groundhog Day experience of a four-day Election are all in our rearview mirror. Can we rest now? It feels like the answer is no, right? Because now we shift to our prayers and preoccupations over a peaceful transition of power, as well as our preparations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Winter. All of this is of course affected by COVID-19, the virus we all wanted to be disappearing in that same rearview back in June.
Who's got time to rest with all that?
And we’re the church – an organization whose stated purpose is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ through the work of prayer, worship, proclamation, and the promotion of justice, peace, and love. So, really, when is that work done? When is the right time to rest when our relationships still need work, and our communities still need reform – when we seem so far from the unity for which we were created?
Set your principles and values aside for just a moment (really just a moment: We’ll pick them back up again shortly) and answer this question for yourself: Are you tired? Emotionally, spiritually, physically, intellectually – are you tired? If your honest answer is yes, yes I’m tired, then I’d like to ask you something else: what if you took that seriously? What if you considered being tired a communication from God rather than a sign of weakness or a badge of honor?
I was recently clued into an organization called The Nap Ministry. The Nap Ministry was created by Atlanta artist and justice worker Tricia Hersey with the tagline “Rest is resistance.” I am assuming this sounds strange, odd, or downright ridiculous to many of you who just read that: “Rest is resistance.” But I keep reading her writing, and I am convicted by the realization that I think I have to earn rest, that I have to justify it. I mostly live this life feeling as if I have something to prove and can only rest when my accomplishments and my work ethic have been duly acknowledged by my community. This is in utter contradiction to the Gospel revelation that God’s love for me is a gift, an act of pure grace and adoration that can be neither earned nor withdrawn based on my hustle or lack thereof. My adherence to the grind and my refusal to rest are acts of disobedience to God.
Well, and there are our principles and values again. I told you they'd be back.
Christians have a distinct vocation in this world: We are given the task of listening to and following Jesus. Jesus is clear about our value being something that is given to us by God. Jesus is clear that our belonging is not something we earn: Our belonging is something that empowers us to really live into the love for which we were made. Jesus tells us to spread that belonging, to give it away, to care for and heal and serve others – and he never suggests that they have to prove they deserve any of it. Jesus feeds people because they’re hungry, not because they’re worthy. He heals people because they’re broken, not because they’re deserving.
This connects in a very real and practical way to rest. If we are attentive to how Jesus operates then we must acknowledge that we should be responsive to what we all need and not what we all have earned. We must resist the need to prove. We must rest, and we must create spaces for others to rest.
Remember the story of Jesus falling asleep in the boat? There he is with the Twelve crossing the Sea of Galilee in the middle of a huge storm, and what does he do? He falls asleep. Presumably the only thing louder than the thunder was the snoring of the Son of God. There’s a lot going on in this story, but one of the things that is clearly communicated is that Jesus’ nap is a sign of his trust in God. Seriously. Jesus, the savior of the world, rests when his body is tired, even in the midst of a storm. He knows the Father is at work, and his letting go is a sign of his faith.
Over the next month or two we will be talking about rest. Not because you’ve earned it. That’s irrelevant. Because you need it. And because your God commands it. Because your rest is an act of faith. We are in the midst of a storm. A storm of uncertainty and injustice, of plague and political upheaval. You are being pressured to know exactly what to say and do in Jesus’ name. But you cannot speak for Jesus until you’ve paused to listen to what he is saying to you. Your rest is not retreat or refusal to accept reality: Your rest is resistance. It is a following of the way of Love, a receiving of God’s grace, peace, and restoration.
Tags: Rector's Blog