Rest / by Andrew Fairfield

Dear friends,

Happy Friday! I hope this finds you looking forward to some rest and relaxation this weekend, a chance to take care of tasks that have been ignored during the week and most importantly an opportunity to spend some sacred Sabbath time with loved ones.

We need rest because, I tell you, life can feel like a marathon. The work just never ends, and it can, if we let it, really start to weigh us down. But God promises us rest, even commands us to rest! What a gift, what a source of peace, to know that we don’t have to be doing something all the time but can stop and just be, and it is enough.

This week the lectionary points us to one of the great psalms of rest, Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” It’s images of lying by still waters, of passing in comfort through the valley of deepest darkness, of a cup overflowing remind me of one of the greatest spirituals of all time, “My God Is a Rock in a Weary Land.”

It’s a song that came from the lives of women and men held captive to the most hideous slavery, people for whom life was indeed an unending marathon, whose grief and hard work knew no end. And yet they heard the words of holy Scripture, and knew that God promised to bring them rest, and justice, in time.

Listen to their song. The name of the musical genius that composed it is lost. And for too long the faith, grace, and heroic perseverance of the ones who sang it have been unrecognized or taken for granted by the authors of American history. But God is indeed a rock of refuge for the weary, and God’s justice is slowly coming. If they could hold fast to that hope in the face of all the despair that threatened them, then surely we can too.

This Friday, as many of us look forward to taking the rest God wants us to have, let us remember those who were denied rest, who were denied so much, but who still held firm to Jesus, the Lord of Love. They stand as shining reminders that although we may face darkness and even despair, we fear no evil, for God’s rod and staff comfort us.

For all those who are weary, may God bring us rest. And for all those who rest, may part of our rest be to remember -- to remember our loved ones, and to remember those who suffered for the One who loves us.

A quiet peace be with you,