Ilike my hammock. With it hanging between two pine trees, I can climb on, wait for the gentle swaying to stop, and gaze out on the lake that reflects the blue of the sky and the green of the pine trees that ring the shoreline.
There’s not much better than to settle in and rest. Peaceful, quiet rest. Rejuvenating, still rest. What a gift those moments are! The buzz and breakneck pace of most days fades away. The task lists are forgotten. The numerous obligations vanish. Rest. Renewing rest. Ahhh—the way life should be!
The conversation between God and Moses continues. God assures his called one yet again that he and the people of God need not be anxious because God will continue to accompany them—guiding, protecting, providing. “My presence will go with you.”
And likewise important is God’s second promise: “I will give you rest.” God knows that the generations-long trek in the wilderness will be arduous. Daily living will be far from easy, and the wilderness living will stretch on for years and decades. Even so, God’s faithful assurance is strongly gentle, “I will give you rest.”
Many of us hear this blessing of God echoed in Jesus’ extraordinary invitation, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Or, to put it another way, when daily life turns into a struggle, and we feel like some ancient beast of burden, Jesus will be an oasis of restful peace.
When living seems too much to manage, circumstances too difficult to cope with, the future too gloomy to consider—call time out. Stop and discover the nurturing, renewing gift of the Holy One . . . rest.
God, in the midst of life’s busyness, grant us the sacred space of blessed rest. Renew us. Nurture us. Calm us. Amen.
In Exodus 33 Moses successfully argues that without Yahweh’s merciful presence Israel is no nation and that Yahweh’s and Moses’ efforts have come to naught. Psalm 99 mentions Yahweh’s royal rule, which brings to mind the human agents of that rule: Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. Each of these leaders facilitated Yahweh’s conversation with the people and Yahweh’s rule over them. The opening lines from First Thessalonians raise a question about the church’s understanding of evangelism. Paul and his coworkers experience a change in themselves because of the Thessalonians, who become a living proclamation of the gospel by virtue of their ready acceptance of it. In the Gospel reading, Jesus answers a question with a question and confuses his “audience” both then and today.
• Read Exodus 33:12-23. When have you most longed for a glimpse of God’s glory? How did God give you the assurance you needed?
• Read Psalm 99. Where in your life is forgiveness needed to restore a loving relationship? How have you experienced “a forgiving God”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. As your Christian faith has developed, how have you seen it move “from head to heart to hands”?
• Read Matthew 22:15-22. How do you give to God “the things that are God’s”? What are some of those things Jesus wants you to give?
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