here are the bare bones of a sermon i preached a couple weeks ago (and of course i ad libbed and added and adjusted when i actually preached it):
The word “retreat” keeps coming to mind. It might be because I just got back from a little vacation or retreat myself, or it might just be because that’s what I see Jesus doing or trying to do in our gospel lesson today.
Retreat has two basic definitions (at least in my mind).
1. Pleasant vacation. This seems to be what Jesus desires when he seeks out quiet places to pray.
2. Hurried exit from a battlefield. This seems to be what Jesus is doing as he literally runs for the hills.
Jesus seems to be experience both types of retreat, the good and the bad. He is looking for a brief respite, and cannot even find it in the house of Simon’s mother-in-law. No matter where he goes to relax and pray, people in need find him. He never says no, but can’t you imagine him getting a bit tired of all the attention? And he always seems to be on the move to get away from the stress and chaos and pain and brokenness of the world. But his retreats are never really successful. The world finds him, no matter where he runs.
How many of us can relate?
As we sit in a sanctuary, I want to think about what that word means. Sanctuary is a safe haven, a place to retreat. Some gather for the good retreat. A place where they know they can pray and encounter God. Others show up because this is a place set apart from the rest of the world where they can be safe. Both types of retreat can lead to this room, this time and place. Life can be overwhelming with pain, brokenness, illness, addiction, work, worry, grief. And so we find places to retreat. And sanctuaries are good places to start. Because this is a safe place, but also we can find others to help us.
In the midst of a crazy world, Jesus sought a few minutes alone. We can understand this sense of a world that is “go, go, go.” He’s always running, always working, always trying to fit in a few minutes of prayer in the midst of all that exorcising (yep, not the work-out, but the command for demons to get out).
If nothing else, take his example to heart. In the midst of your life, retreat. If life is too hectic or painful, may you find a quiet place to encounter God and be healed. If you simply need to relax, may you find a quiet place to encounter God and be recharged. Whether you need a pleasant vacation or are running from a battlefield, may you find a quiet place to encounter the God who understands what it’s like to live a life constantly on the go.
May you find peace and healing and wholeness and sanity in the midst of the pain and hurt and brokenness and chaos of life. Amen.
- Posted in: sermons