I should probably preface this blog about taking time and giving time by admitting that I am getting ready for our family vacation at the beach as I write it. Don't suspect for a minute that I feel GUILTY about that. We all need time for leisure activity and rest. But going out of town for a week of R & R is an exercise that inevitably causes me to think that my grab for free time is a kind of zero-sum game. That is to say that my time away comes at the expense of another person's offering of time in my place. When vacations happen someone seems to win and someone else seems to lose...at least until the next guy takes time off.
Maybe it's because of my own workaholic approach to life and zero-sum game assumptions about vacation that I've discovered in recent years that the account of Jesus' multiplication of loaves in the Gospel of Mark is just as much about feeding as it is about eating...just as much about work that satisfies as it is about food that satisfies. It begins with the disciples' own need for personal time and Jesus' invitation that they "come away...to rest a while" because they had "no leisure, even to eat." Yet no sooner do they arrive at their vacation destination than Jesus sees people in need and has compassion on them. He begins to teach them many things. As the time grows late, his disciples notice and ask Jesus to send the crowd away that they might be able to buy food. His reply? "You give them something to eat." That seemed overwhelming, at first. But out of the disciples' own scarcity. (not abundance)...out of only five loaves and two fish...Jesus feeds a multitude. All--even, we presume, the disciples who distribute the food--eat. All--again, even or especially, Jesus' disciples!--are satisfied.
Jesus' desire for us is that we find our rest in Him. We should never feel guilty about taking time by ourselves for rest that is found in His gift of renewal and soul refreshment. But such rest neither implies escape from work nor a zero-sum game approach to time. As a community in Christ, our work does get done. As a community in Christ we share one another's burdens and needs for free time. Jesus takes our scarcity and turns it into a glorious banquet that satisfies both others in the receiving and ourselves in the giving. As a community in Christ we learn to discern better what is truly important work from work that is merely urgent. Today as we both distribute and receive the Bread of Life blessed, broken, and given for us by Jesus, we find our rest in Him. Let us serve the Lord and one another together...finding satisfaction in both the taking of time and the giving of it.