Homily By The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA, 19 July 2015
Proper 11 Year B: 2 Samuel 7:1-14a; Psalm 89:20-37; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Jesus says, "Come away to a deserted place
all by yourselves & rest a while."
Jesus encourages the very busy apostles to rest. Earlier in Mark Chapter 6 he has sent them in pairs to many places to do as he has been doing. They return & share with him their experiences: they have cast out demons, anointed the sick with oil & cured them. They have been busy. People are still crowding to get near them & Jesus. So Jesus says, let's get in the boat: it's time for a break. It's like a summer vacation.
Who remembers the often required assignment when you came back to school after summer vacation? What was that assignment? [To write the essay: What I Did on My Summer Vacation.]
John & I enjoyed many new places on our summer vacation. The first place we stopped was a familiar place in Marietta. What was new was having time to explore the historic square, which reminds me of our Willis Park area.
We discovered a local art gallery above a shop. In the gallery I discovered this fascinating piece of art [and bought it]. Artist Joel Reines calls this Red Wasp.
His art grew from his childhood habit of collecting & re-purposing curb pickup & junk-yard items people threw away, restoring new life to the items. In his work I see stewardship of God's creation: Items that might have landed in a land fill have landed elsewhere – those in this piece landed on our dining room table to beautify it.
We tend to think of stewardship as having to do with our money. It does. It is also about all aspects of our lives. Jesus teaches the disciples to take a break after their hard work – to be good stewards of their lives.
Notice: Jesus tells them to get in the boat. That's one way to get a break from the crowds who race around on land & reach the other side of the lake before Jesus & the disciples.
Like Jesus' work & the disciples' work, our work is important. So is time away, time for a break from responsibility. Stewardship of our time & energy is why we have teams to do the work we have as the Body of Christ that is St. John's: the Altar Guild is the work of more than one person. We have more than one usher. We have a bulletin team, teams of Lay Readers, Acolytes, Eucharistic Visitors & our music team to share our work in liturgy. We have more than one treasurer. Our team of Lay Weeders keeps the landscape in shape.
Any one member of any one team is skillful enough to handle all the work of that team each week. The wisdom we hear from Jesus in today's Gospel tells us we would thwart the stewardship of our time if one of us were to do all the work all the time.
As a wise saint in Valdosta once said to a group of us eager young working over-doers:
“If you do everything yourself, you deny someone else the opportunity to serve.”
Our lesson from 2nd Samuel, our Psalm, which is a commentary on this chapter in Samuel1, & our lesson from Ephesians tell us that not one of us is to do all the work. We individuals make up a people – a commonwealth – a unity of diversity – that has work to share as good stewards of the gifts God gives us.
Our Vestry's opening devotion reminds us of this. Its Responsive Litany says2: [Leader] Our bodies have many different parts. [People's Response] God created us that way. Even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. God created us that way. If one part hurts, we hurt all over; and if one part does well, the whole body benefits. God created us that way.
Our group is like a body. Each part is important. God calls us to work together. And to care about each other. The world is like a body. Each part is important. God calls us to work together. And to care about each other.
Dear God, Help us to work together, to see how important we are to one another & to value our ministry together in this place. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
We at St. John's DO work together & we do work together well. We also play together well at Parish Suppers & Wednesday mornings. It is important for this Body to play, to take time to refresh ourselves so that we can see with rested & refreshed eyes our work & to have the creativity to renew & re-purpose what may appear worn out & useless like the sick & desperate crowds that run to Jesus, whose keen shepherd's eye sees what these bleating sheep really need & how they can be renewed, re-purposed, rebuilt.
Refreshed on vacation, I was shocked to read that Bainbridge is #2 in the top 10 cities in Georgia that are considered the worst places to live. What I see is a city – like these re-purposed wood pieces – that has great beauty & untapped potential to be #1 of the 10 BEST places to live in Georgia.
What I see in this room are beautiful, creative, compassionate individuals who – together & guided by the Holy Spirit – can make a positive impact where we live. The Post-Searchlight editorial says: enough people worked together to get a traffic light at the high school.
If we can get a traffic light, this beautiful, creative Body of Christ can lead the way to get our community off the negative/“worst” list & on the positive/“best” list!
Know this: in this room I see wise people, united people who know not one of us can do this work, people who know that together we can lead this work, this turn-around, this re-purposing of our community that others are willing to dismiss as useless.
To do this work, I encourage you to be like Jesus & the disciples & give yourselves a break so that you regain energy for the task, regain refreshment for the creative work only you can do.
Notice: Jesus & the disciples take a break
in their work when they need it.
They do not wait until a traditional
vacation time or the sabbath rest.
Please turn to page 825 in the Book of Common Prayer & look #32 “For the Good Use of Leisure.” Let us pray:
O God, in the course of this busy life,
give us times of refreshment & peace;
& grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild
our bodies & renew our minds,
that our spirits may be opened to
the goodness of your creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Lectionary Page. http://www.lectionarypage.net/. Accessed: 3 June 2015.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1986.
http://onnidan1.com/forum/index.php?topic=102165.msg823132 Accessed: 18 July 2015.
http://vicarbill.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/devotions-for-congregation-leadership/ Accessed: 6 Dec. 2013.
1 Harper's Bible Commentary. P. 474.
2 http://vicarbill.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/devotions-for-congregation-leadership/ Accessed: 6 Dec. 2013.