In last Sunday’s gospel (Mark 6:30-34, 53-56) Jesus said to the disciples “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” Jesus and the disciples had been gathered with many. They had been so busy they didn’t even have time to eat, and they needed some time away.
St. Mark tells how one evening people “brought to [Jesus] all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered at the door.” He cured many who were sick and cast out many demons. “In the morning while it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:32-35)
After feeding the five thousand Jesus “went up the mountain by himself to pray” (Matthew 14:23).
This is a common pattern in Jesus’ life. He goes away not to escape but to be able to come together. His going away is what allowed him to be present to God, himself, and others. And it is for us too.
Going away and coming together. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. The two go together like breathing in and breathing out. It’s not just a rhythm of life, it’s a rhythm necessary for life, individually and communally.
Summer in the church is for many of us a time of going away. For some it’s a vacation and travel. For others it’s a staycation. It’s less about where we go and more about what we do interiorly. Going away is a time of rest, renewal, reflection, and re-collecting ourselves. We gather with ourselves so we can more fully come together with each other.
Fall in the church is for many of us a time of new and renewed coming together. We remember and recommit to our life with God and each other. We come together in Sunday worship, classes, outreach, and fellowship. We come together as a people called to be a public face of Christ.
I hope you are getting some going away time. I’m ready for and looking forward to mine. And I hope you will be there when we come together. I’m ready for and looking forward to you.
God’s peace be with you,