One of the striking prayers from the Stations of the Cross occurs
when Jesus is laid in the tomb; it says that Jesus rested – and a much deserved
rest it was. He had been through quite a week. He had processed into Jerusalem,
cleared the temple of the money changers, walked to Jerusalem to preach, saw a
fig tree that was not producing fruit and withered it as a sign to those who
believe to bear good fruit. On Wednesday, he preached and upset the temple
leaders and one of his closest friends betrayed him. Thursday was his last
dinner on earth. Then came the late night (or early morning) capture. The trial
was Friday morning and by noon he was hanging in pain on the cross.
I’d say he deserved a good rest. Much longer than the one he took.
The very first story in the Bible teaches that God created for six days and then rested on the seventh day. When Moses came down from the Holy Hill with the two tablets that recorded the ten commandments, he recited them,
probably like this: I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before
me, do not make for yourself any idol, don’t take the name of the Lord in vain,
remember to keep the Sabbath.
If you were counting, that makes taking a day off each week number
four. To paraphrase, I am the Lord, don’t take any other gods before me, don’t
take my name in vain, and take a day off.
These examples say a lot about taking time off. If God did it after
he began creation, Jesus did it after his Passion, and Moses recited it off the
tablets, I’d say it’s an important thing. I know I have to watch how I handle my
rest and time off and I am guessing that more than one of my readers has the
Saint John’s School has been on break for the past two weeks. Study
after study shows rest is important to children. It aids in their learning
process and in their development, both mentally and physically (and I’d say
spiritually too). And sufficient sleep is necessary to general well-being. News stories indicate most of us are sleep deprived to some extent or another.
I recently read that productivity in the U.S. is at an all-time
high. Some of this has to do with innovation, specifically computers and
automation of tasks. But, some of it has to do with work and taking less
vacation and time off. While productivity helps our short term economic outlook,
it can have a negative impact on the people who are doing the work and also on
their families and their health.
Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are worn out and tired and I
will give you rest.” Some of that rest includes following his life, his
teaching, and God’s commandments – namely, take some time off for yourself and
I write this at the risk of being called a hypocrite. Clergy in general don’t do a good job at taking time off. And, when clergy burn out, it is disastrous for their lives and especially the life of the Church. Happily, I’m taking this week off (and wrote this before my post-Easter break).
Saint John’s has been through a lot of work this year. We have more work ahead of us. It is important that we take breaks. If Jesus did it, and God commanded it, then perhaps we should follow his example and take time off seriously, both individually and as a worshipping community.
May God grant you rest and peace and may you find the time to
follow his commandment to take time off.
- Fr. Marshall