Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Getting Away From It All

From Messiah Lutheran Church's July/August 2011 newsletter

The summer months are here. The kids are out of school. The weather is nicer (at least we hope it will be). The days are longer. It’s time to get away for a vacation. Could be a couple of weeks. Could be a couple of days. Whatever the case may be, it’s good to get away for a while. See new places. Do new things. Rest. Recharge.

Jesus knew the importance of “getting away from it all” once in a while. He often would withdraw from the press of the crowds who followed him and go into “desolate places” (e.g. Mark 1:45). At other times, a brief “cruise” on the Sea of Galilee was in order (e.g. Mark 3:7). And after the disciples returned from their first preaching mission, Jesus encouraged them to “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

What did Jesus do in those “desolate places”? As True Man, he needed to rest his body. But the Scriptures also inform us that he prayed (e.g. Mark 1:35). Jesus knew that prayer was a vital part of his rest and an opportunity to express his fellowship with his Heavenly Father.

I hope you get the chance to “get away from it all” and rest a while this summer, if only for a brief time. But as you do, take time also to pray and worship. One of the joys of traveling is visiting other congregations and making connections with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in another region. Make use of the congregation locator at the LCMS website to find a church in the cities or towns where you plan to be. If you are reading this on the internet, click here to find a sister LCMS congregation. If you don’t use the internet, check in at the church office, and we can give you contact information for the churches in the areas to which you will be traveling.

Maybe it’s not possible for you to find a “desolate place” to get away. Your work responsibilities are keeping you close to home. Your finances don’t allow you to travel farther than Everett or Arlington. That’s when you need to find a “desolate place” right under your own roof … a moment or two of quiet reflection where you can read God’s Word and spend even a brief moment in prayer. If the Holy Son of God thought it necessary to “get away from it all,” how much more important it is for us weak and sinful creatures.

And don’t forget about the most important time of rest … when we gather together on Sunday mornings to rest and receive our Lord’s gifts of life and salvation in the Divine Service. Here we have a respite from all our troubles … a place to “get away from it all” (another reason why I like the word “sanctuary” for our worship space). Here all the baptized hear the precious word of forgiveness in the Gospel. Here God’s reconciled people receive the body and blood of our Savior who was sacrificed for our salvation. Here God’s redeemed receive a foretaste of the eternal rest promised us in Paradise at “the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end.”

In Christ’s service and yours,
Pastor Onken

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