Quite the inspiration, holding a sleeping baby in my arms while I contemplate Mark's passage on the disciples' need of a break (Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56)...
We all need a break, especially those of us in ministry. Just like sleeping babies, we need to 'sleep' so we can grow, turn off from the (over)stimulation of the world, and awaken hungry again. Being passed around from person to person, having to constantly adapt to new faces and situations is tough and emotionally (and even often physically) exhausting. People constantly getting in or putting things in your face to get a reaction out of you (good or bad)--it's a lot to deal with. We need to rest.
Conversely, it's the people following Jesus around who are like infants insofar as they are needy and helpless, crying out for healing. And just like a mother feeding her child in the middle of the night, no matter how tired she is, she can't resist (or tune out!) the child's cries of hunger and need. Jesus would no more ignore those people's needs than a parent would ignore their baby's. No matter how dirty the diaper, it has to be changed!
The line that struck me in my original reading was the line "...there was no time even for them to eat." Yeah, I so know how that feels. I don't even have a school-aged kid until the fall, but all of our comings and goings make it hard to get everyone around the table at once.
I remember from elementary social studies, the 3 basic human needs--food, clothing, & shelter. Food, a basic human need, and yet we so often put it off for other things. I could go off on a whole 'nuther rant about our Fast Food Nation, but I won't. You can see where it would head from here, I think.
I want to explore in this week's sermon the way the feeding of the 5,000 is sandwiched by this week's reading. Mark is actually quite the literary genius, leading us into this massive feast of loaves and fishes with the disciples lack of time for a meal. I imagine they were quite cranky and tired, having also just come off their journey made in pairs to the outlying regions. I know I get cranky when my blood sugar is low; I know my baby girl doesn't like it when her feeding gets delayed for whatever reason. How must they have felt to see Jesus delaying again, even though it was getting late?
It is hard to form a sermon without wanting to say, "This is what being a follower is all about, putting aside our own needs for those of others." Well, yes, but... But we need to have a time for rest and renewal. Even Jesus had to get away at times (napping in the boat, alone in the garden, etc.). We can't do effective ministry if we aren't getting our basic needs met, if we aren't at least rested and well-fed. And like babies, we will better thrive if we are also loved and hugged and adored occasionally.
Take a minute for yourself this week, don't put off caring for others, but do try to find that moment of peace. Let yourself be cared for like a small child, for we all are children of God.