“For many were coming and going…and they had no leisure even to eat.” That’s Mark writing in our Gospel this morning, nearly 2,000 years ago. An apt description of our lives today, for many of us. Too busy…too preoccupied with what comes next to take a break…sometimes even to eat – going from one activity to the next. Taking care of children, providing care for family and loved ones with special needs – can often be round the clock commitments. Beyond that, technology makes it harder than ever to step away from our day to day obligations.
The bustle and busyness of our lives reshape our priorities. Perhaps not consciously, but overall in an even, deliberate way. We’re preoccupied, consumed with material possessions, hanging on to things and neglecting people and relationships. Stop and think about it. What happens if we as Christians become too busy to gather together as people of faith. Don’t kid yourself, it’s happening already. And has been for a long time.
Jesus offers us a cautionary word. We all need times when we stop what we’re doing – including things we do together as the Church. Time to re-form ourselves; to reflect on who we are, apart from the crowd, as individuals. But time together here for worship is critical to our mission and understanding of what it means to be the church, to be the Body of Christ. God finds us and reveals himself in each moment, and as Christians we learn to pay attention to God’s presence in our lives. We gather each week for time to replenish ourselves – through the Sacrament, God’s meal and God’s Word…and as a Family that cares for one another despite our differences.
In our readings this morning, God offers us the space that we need. The shepherd restores us – prepares a table – and satisfies us. Jeremiah highlights for us how God [as shepherd] is distinct from other shepherds. God enfolds and embraces us – and we see this again described in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. With God believers aren’t strangers, but “citizens with the saints” and members together of God’s house.
We grow together, as one people, with God dwelling in us into a body, united in our baptism and through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Jesus teaches us, feeds us, and heals us, just as he did with the disciples in our Gospel this morning. He calls us with compassion from the crowd to community. Make no mistake, there is a distinction to note between crowd and community. Crowds gather people in their anonymity with no connection – while communities gather with a common mission to provide for one another. Jesus sees us as we are – assuring us that we are enough – and he invites us into relationship with him, and with each other as a community.
Our worship life creates and strengthens our relationship as a community of Faith. The Holy Spirit gathers us, and calls us from different places to participate in this Family of Faith. Each week, we hear God’s word, the proclamation of the Gospel; and we offer our gifts to Christ’s mission of the church through the ministries of this congregation. We comfort and console one another, sharing joys, concerns and prayers for hope and for healing. We practice hospitality where all are welcome, and all are fed by a common meal that invites inclusivity and unity that is created by our baptism into the communion of faith. And we’re sent as one people into a community to care for a broken world, as people of God, as the Body of Christ. No need for endless searching… God is with us. God finds us where we are – revealed in the public spaces of our lives – as we live in witness to the hope and healing of Christ’s resurrection. Amen.