Worship for Sunday, July 18, 2021

Jeremiah 23:1-6

1Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.

5The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 23

1The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not be in want.
2The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures
and leads me beside still waters.
3You restore my soul, O Lord,
and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake.
4Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Amen.

Ephesians 2:11-22

11Remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands—12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

30The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31He 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. 32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34As 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.

53When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56And 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.

The Word of the Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

How often are you just plain tired? Or simply worn out?   Perhaps you sometimes feel downright exhausted by all life keeps sending your way?

There are times when the demands of life can start to feel pretty relentless – even overwhelming – can’t they?

Are any of you gathered here this morning feeling a bit sleepy?

When we lived in northwestern Minnesota – it was easy to tell who my dairy farmers were. As soon as the Lutheran calisthenics of up and down and up and down for the hymns and the confession and the prayer of the day stopped and we settled in for the sermon – they would ALL begin to fall asleep almost immediately.

These farmers were in church because they wanted to be there. They loved Jesus and served our Lord faithfully. Some of them cleaned the church from top to bottom every week.   They served on church council and committees and came to Bible study. But they just could not stay awake for a sermon to save their souls.   They fell asleep week after week – in spite of terrifying looks from their moms and jabs to the ribs from their loving wives.

Wow – being born is EXHAUSTING!

One afternoon – John came to me and said – “Pastor – I just wanted you to know – it isn’t you. Please don’t take it personally. It’s the cows. I fall asleep whenever I sit down in the winter long enough to thaw out.”

And it was true. I watched John and the other dairy farmers. They ALL fell asleep if they sat still someplace warm in the winter long enough to thaw out. It was like thawing out was their emergency shut-off switch.

You may not be farmers coping with the trials of working in freezing cold barns in northern Minnesota in January – but your lives are busy too.

I am sure I am not alone in finding myself short on sleep every once in a while. In fact – I read this week – many Americans are sleep deprived. At least 36% of American adults just don’t get enough sleep. And this can hurt our health and cause serious accidents!

Our kids are sleep deprived too. Over 70% of teenagers aren’t getting enough sleep. An estimated 20% of high school students fall asleep in class on a regular basis because they are exhausted. Not because they are bored!

We aren’t just sleepy – we are working too much too. Americans don’t take vacations and breaks from work. Over the past 50 years – American workers have been taking less and less vacation. In the 1970’s about 80% of US workers took a week long vacation – now that’s fallen to only 50% of us.

Firemen work hard!

We seem to think we have too much to do to take a break. We think our worth as human beings is defined by how busy we are and how much we do.

We “busy-brag” all of the time. We compare to do lists making it very clear the person with the biggest – craziest list wins!

But I wonder? Is this really the best way to live our lives? Is this what our Lord would recommend for us?

In our Gospel reading for this week we learn Jesus and his disciples have been incredibly busy. Everywhere they go huge crowds of desperate people are flocking to them – begging for help. And Jesus helped them. Jesus healed the sick – cast out demons and fed the hungry. All while sharing the Good News of God’s grace – love and mercy.

I cannot imagine how demanding their lives were.   The disciples must have been exhausted.   But rather than scolding them for being tired and telling them to buck-up and get back to work – Jesus suggests they take a break to rest so they can be renewed.

Even Jesus and his disciples needed a break.   Even these faithful saints needed some quiet time away. Their need for rest doesn’t mean they don’t love God or they aren’t really and truly dedicated. Their need for rest isn’t selfish. Rather it was absolutely necessary. They rested so they could be renewed for their work in the world.

Exhausted by the hike . . .

The same is true you. It is not wrong or sinful that you get tired and need to rest.   It is simply a part of being human.

Jesus and the disciples took time to rest and be renewed because they knew God had important work for them to do. Yes – they took a break – but they did not remain apart from the world forever. They didn’t take a permanent vacation from their call to serve. Instead Jesus leads the disciples back into the world after their time of rest and they return to their ministry in earnest – healing – preaching – and teaching.

Each Sunday we gather together to worship – to hear God’s Word – to spend time with our brothers and sisters in Christ – and to gain strength for what is to come. Because we too are called to serve our Lord and his people.

As Christians we are called to go out into the world so others might know the Good News of God’s love.

Lunch was hard work!

But God does not expect us never to get tired or never to need a break. God wants you care for yourself too. And to do this we need to rest.

God wants you to rest and be renewed so you have the energy to go out into the world to share the Good News of God’s love.   Everyone should know what we have the privilege of knowing. Because we know we are the beloved – forgiven – redeemed children of God.

Jesus Christ has given each of you the awesome gifts of forgiveness – everlasting life – and REST. We can all go forth into the world to serve knowing our Lord understands our need to rest and to renew ourselves too.

Christians who work 24 hours a day – 365 days a year are not better Christians – they are tired Christians who need to rest. God wants you to serve him faithfully and to rest and relax too. Truly this is Good News – AMEN.

 

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