July 9, 2023: An Invitation to Rest


Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

An Invitation to Rest

The invitation to discipleship is an invitation to rest.

Rest is an interesting biblical concept. The word “rest” occurs over 640 times in English from Genesis to Revelation. The Creator rests (Genesis 2:2); the ark rests upon Mount Ararat after the flood (Genesis 8:4); the formerly enslaved Israelites rested en route from Egypt to the promised land (Exodus 16:30). God promises King David that his son Solomon will be a “man of rest” (1 Chronicles 22:9); both Job and the psalmist cry out to God begging for rest (Job 3:26, Psalm 55:6); and even the planet itself is said to be at “rest” when the earth-ravaging horrors of war cease to destroy the land (Joshua 11:23). The New Testament similarly offers examples of rest, from Jesus’ command in today’s Gospel text to the first disciples, who prioritized their daily rest as they shared the Gospel across the known world, a job that surely required frequent rest!

So too are we, as disciples of the Savior, invited to exchange our work for rest from the work of following our Lord. When he invites us, do we respond? Do we willingly and regularly lay aside our to-do lists, set our devices to “do not disturb,” regularly carve out time away from our work and labor, and rest? Do we find creative ways to restore our souls, to recover the strength of our spirit through relaxation in our God’s provision? Or do we find ourselves irreplaceable, refusing to endure even twenty-four hours without checking our emails and responding to text messages?

The invitation to faithful discipleship of our Lord is an invitation to rest with him, to exchange the burdens of our daily work and toil for the peaceful support that he provides. May we make an intentional choice to exchange the burdens we carry for the rest he offers.

Dana Myers, associate pastor, Fries Memorial Moravian Church,
Winston-Salem, North Carolina