AdventWord 2019: 21. Rest
“Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” From the Confessions of St. Augustine
The last year has been an exciting one when it comes to the Way of Love and our Office of Communication. The popularity of the seven practices for Jesus-centered life – turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, and rest – has been overwhelming; this is a good problem, most of the time. Our staff, small in number and generally dispersed around the country, work diligently to source, write, edit, film, revise, update, design, manage, translate, and announce offerings from The Episcopal Church to folks in the pews and diocesan offices.
Since the public launch of the Way of Love at General Convention in 2018, we’ve produced numerous curricula, launched two seasons of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s podcast, filmed and released a web series, designed handouts, and so much more – in addition to all of those tasks and projects we were working on before the launch. While it is busy – busier than I can ever remember – it is the joy of my life to help provide in some small way materials that help us all re-center our lives on Jesus Christ, even if it means burning the midnight oil on occasion.
Still, I received some wisdom late last year from the Rev. Jimmy Bartz, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jackson, Wyoming. While we were filming the Traveling the Way of Love episode called Rest, we discussed that as a spiritual discipline, resting is not the same as sleeping. It’s not the same as zoning out while watching the same movie you’ve seen a thousand times. To rest – whether for a moment or a Sabbath day – is to step away from the fever of life and re-center ourselves on the Source. Take note, friends: working until you are exhausted, even when you enjoy it, does not fulfill God’s command that you rest.
As I noted in the episode, I have never (ever) been good at resting, but I really do believe starting with small, intentional practices can help those of us who work in and with the Church. After all, none of us take on ministries so we can wear ourselves out with work (though we often do); rather, we work hard because we are on a mission to share God’s love with a world that sorely needs it. Take time today to look up from your phone or your computer. Step back into a long-neglected friendship. Take a hike on your own. Watch the snow fall in perfect silence. Let your heart – even for a moment, at first – find rest in God.