Reflection by Pastor Hector Garfias-Toledo + July 5, 2023
“Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Matthew 11:28-29 (MSG)
A few days ago, I was reading an article in the Christian Century Magazine titled “The Pandemic Destroyed My Certainty – Or was it God?” The title caught my attention because, like many others, I like to have a good sense of certainty, especially when the rapid and unpredictable changes in our world make us feel powerless, helpless, and exhausted.
Who doesn’t want to have certainty at a time when the economy, heath system, and socio- political environments seem to call out the worst of our man-ness? The pressure and stress of this unprecedented time also exposes the condition of our souls and emotional lives as members of the community and the Jesus’ movement called church.
Often Pr. Jade and I walk along Meadowdale Beach Park. It is one of our favorite places. We are always amazed by the ways in which nature prevails and adapts to the ever changing environment.
How the forest renews itself, and how life emerges in an organic and natural way is fascinating to see. The beauty of the forest is that everything is interconnected and interdependent. In fact just walking there makes me feel part of the forest.
We have noticed that neither the old nor the new are more important than the other. They coexist and they complement one other, as if they go hand in hand, learning from the past and envisioning what the forest is becoming. The “old” supports the new, and the “new” finds life in the “old.” That is a natural rhythm of life and growth that we have neglected in light of the constant pressure exerted by a society that teaches us to despise or dismiss that which does not make “me” feel good.
Let’s take a moment to think of the implications of such patterns. How does it affect our families, communities, and especially congregations? Throughout my years in ministry, I constantly hear questions about the right way to do church, or communion, or music.
Jesus takes us away from the constant desire to be relevant, stand out, do the right thing, and the idea that there is a right way to worship God, to please God, or to define generations as wrong or irrelevant. All of that distracts us and causes us to become judgmental, isolated, tired, exhausted, and drained emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Get away with me – Jesus calls us to live a life connected and interrelated with him and with one another. In him, and with all the saints of past and present, we find strength, hope, and the assurance that we will recover our life. It is a challenge to detach from certainty and control.
When I see these new trees growing on the top of the remains of what once was a strong tree. I am reminded that life emerges only when we let go of our certainties, insecurities, and desire to control our life and others’ lives; allowing the rhythms of God’s grace flow through our lives to heal, restore, make whole, and give life.
By getting away with Jesus, trusting his lead, and joining him in living out the message of God’s reign, we will be able to see and experience the unforced rhythms of God’s grace. In walking with Jesus our certainty is destroyed so that we can rely on the source of life and rest.
Allow me to share a poem written by Uruguayan poet Mario Benedetti. The title of the poem is “Porque cantamos (Why we sing)”. This poem helps us to remember that as ”co-journeyers” with Jesus, we are able to still sing, despite the innumerable forces that tell us that we are alone. We still sing because in Jesus there is life, a real rest which allows us to sing along the journey. We know how hard and exhausting it is when we want to do it on our own.
May the Spirit guide you in our journey and give us the will and boldness to get away with Jesus to be his presence and the instruments of his divine compassion that brings life and real rest to all people.
Pastor Hector Garfias-Toledo