- Rev. Michelle Vernone
The Pace of Grace
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
By the time you receive this we will be 2 weeks in to our An Unhurried Life (book by Alan Fadling) sermon series. It is my prayer that as we press into following biblical rhythms of work and rest, we will begin to experience Jesus, our faith journeys, and our community in new ways. If we are to become the fullest, best versions of who were created to be, then following Jesus, and inviting to Holy Spirit to make us more like Jesus becomes the number one priority in our lives. Jesus invites us to share in an unhurried life; to realign our hearts and schedules to reflect the priorities of Jesus. Jesus invites us to find rest for our souls.
One would think, that as I press in personally and teach from the pulpit the importance of “ruthlessly eliminating hurry” and releasing our over-scheduled, over-tired, over-busy lifestyles, I would start by reducing some of the events, programs, etc. of the church. The truth is, we have in INCREASED the number of studies and Sunday school classes. The newly formed Missions Board has begun planning the return of Faith In Action Sundays. I am hoping for the launch of a Men’s Ministry/bible study in 2019. Let me tell you why.
I have recently had several conversations with many different pastors/lay leaders regarding the difficulty of getting people to participate in almost anything other than Sunday morning worship (and even that is often a struggle). As we talked, some shared their family’s schedules. Activities/sports before and after school, league games out of town, practices, scrimmages, workouts, dance classes, scouting. You name it, we talked about it. All of these things seem to take priority over active, community-based discipleship. Church. Culturally and collectively, our discipleship is what has become “optional”. It’s what we sacrifice when we are tired, over-worked, over-scheduled. And yet, we still do not understand or experience rest. Living an “unhurried life” isn’t just about “me time.” It’s about intentional time with and for the Lord. The rhythms of work and rest guide us to living full lives that glorify God, work to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, and bring us into a deeper relationship with God and others. So, while others may advise that we cancel programs and studies, or not try to start new ones, I cannot in good conscience surrender any more ground to a hurried culture that steals the rest we are promised through Jesus. By offering more opportunities to be in worship, to be part of a bible study or a small group, the church offers opportunities for people to choose discipleship, to choose rest.
In the coming weeks, I am asking you to pray. Pray about what it might look like for you, for your family, to find rest. How can we, as a church, restore Sabbath rest? When we examine our schedules, our finances, our commitments, do they demonstrate that loving God and others is our very first priority? This isn’t about judgement or criticism. It’s a call to spiritual, emotional, and physical health. I’ll be pressing into this time realigning my own priorities, culling my schedule, setting my heart to walking in the “pace of grace”, sitting at the feet of Jesus, and embracing a non-anxious, unhurried life. Will you join me?