Take Time for Renewal

Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 97; 147:12-20, Joshua 3:14-4:7, Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 26:1-16

Like all relationships, our relationship with Christ needs tending. We can become so focused on doing the work we feel Christ calls us to do, that we neglect the source of that call. Our periods of relationship-building may not always look productive to others, but in the long run they renew us for continued service. In today’s reading from Matthew, Judas chastises a woman for pouring an extravagant amount of expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet, and complains it could have been sold to feed the poor. Jesus tells Judas the poor will always be around, but he would only be with them a little longer. The woman’s action was a needed moment of preparation for both her and Jesus. Relentlessly monitoring each “unproductive” moment and “wasted” penny does not bring us closer to Christ, but it does bring us closer to burnout.

Isn’t a conscious effort at restoration and renewal – be it physical or spiritual – a form of gratitude to God? If we used a car only in the service of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, it would still need regular maintenance. Otherwise it would break down too soon and be good for nothing. Yet we are often willing to risk letting our own engines seize rather than take the time for self-care. Do we believe God wants us to drive ourselves non-stop only to be junked before our time? Of course not. Our physical, mental and spiritual health are gifts from God. Gratitude includes caring for them as they deserve.

The sad truth is, the poor (and the sick, and the imprisoned) always will be around, at least until the kingdom of God is fulfilled. The work is never ending, but our endurance isn’t. Even Jesus needed and sought periods of solitude and rest – why would we expect more of ourselves? The Pharisees accused Jesus of being a drunkard and a glutton. Yet we are often afraid of the criticism we might receive for saying “no” to a request for our time or talents. We answer only to God, and God knows we could use a break.

Comfort: You can rest without guilt.

Challenge: Look at your weekly and monthly schedules. Is there anything you could let go in order to find more time to rest in the presence of God?

Prayer: God of Renewal, thank you for the talents you have given me to serve your people, and the time you have given me to spend with you. Amen.

Discussion: Do you have trouble saying “No?” Why?

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