Mark 6: 14-44
Here’s an idea for a Lenten discipline inspired by what happens before and what happens after Jesus invites his disciples to “come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” (Mark 6: 31, NIV).
Doesn’t that sound nice? Jesus’ quiet place of rest. I’d go there. I’d live there if I could and spend all of my time living out of that peaceful space.
So here’s my idea, what if we each created a peaceful space during Lent? A place that for the 40 days of Lent would reflect our idea of what Jesus’ quiet place would be like. It would have to be a space that we have control over, and some place where we could easily promote the things that make for peace and keep out the things that stir up strife.
What about a Facebook page? Those of you who have a Facebook page. Your Facebook page could reflect your image of a quiet place of rest. You can post tranquil pictures, inspiring poems, encouraging words-- whatever you consider peaceful.
It’s hard to control a conversation. We blurt out something that we didn’t intend to say. Someone brings something up, complains about someone else, what do you do? How do you drag the conversation away from gossip? It can be awkward.
However, on Facebook we get to decide what we will comment on, what topics we will Like, which friends need a private message and which will receive a public comment. If something unpeaceful shows up on our page, we can delete it.
We could create for our friends for Lent, Jesus’ quiet place of rest on our Facebook page, and they could visit our page as often as they need to and stay as long as they like. For the 40 days of Lent our Facebook page, the page that presents our face to the world can be the face of compassion.
All anger can wait for 40 days. All griping can wait. All accusations can wait until after Easter. Those kinds of comments won’t be found on our Facebook page. Think you could keep that up for 40 days?
Lent runs from February 13 to March 30. That’s a long time to refrain from angry retorts. Jesus is the master of creating a quiet place of rest even in the most trying of circumstances. Let’s see what we can learn from his example.
Right before extending his peaceful invitation to the disciples, Jesus’ cousin John is beheaded by King Herod. John had made a comment about Herod’s marriage to Herodias, saying that the marriage was against Jewish law, which it was.
The King liked to hear John’s religious teachings, he was puzzled by them, he did not change his lifestyle because of John’s messages, but he enjoyed listening to them. Herodias his wife, on the other, hand nursed a grudge against John, because he was right, she was living in sin. She wanted his head on a platter.
Ever been that annoyed with someone? Ever offered up their head on a platter on your Facebook page?
The news that his cousin has been murdered arrives just as Jesus’ disciples are returning from a preaching tour. They are all excited, they want to tell Jesus about people’s reactions to their sermons. And this is when Jesus asks them to go with him to a quiet place where they can rest.
Someone is mistreated. We expect that person’s family to react. At the very least family members are going to find ways to express their anger and resentment, they are going to take sides.
Herodias’ daughter sides with her mother. Herodias draws her daughter into her feud with John. Together mother and daughter get father to silence the prophet’s accusations.
Jesus ministers to his disciples by taking them to a quiet place where they can rest. Whatever Jesus is feeling towards the royal family, he keeps it to himself, he does not drag the disciples into a feud with the ruling class.
Notice that this is not escapism. Jesus’ ministry to the 12 apostles leads directly to the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. The crowd follows the disciples to the quiet place. Jesus sees that the people have not brought any food with them, he tells the disciples to provide for them, and though they doubt their ability at first, in the end there is plenty of food to go around.
Jesus chooses the quiet place of rest over the contentious place of retaliation. He ministers to 12, those 12 then minister to thousands.
When we resist the urge to strike back, when we refrain from nursing a grudge, we are more available to Christ. We are more responsive to his call to minister to others.
How many people can we ministry to through our Facebook pages? More than twelve I would imagine. And then if the people we minister to are inspired to follow our example and minister to others through their Facebook pages during Lent, how many thousands do you think would find a quiet place of rest with Christ?
Someone is going to try your patience during Lent. Someone is going to annoy you. Instead of airing your grievance on Facebook (or twitter, email, texting, your blog, etc.) try taking it to Christ. Ask Christ to help you keep your peace and keep your friends’ peace. Pray for a peaceful resolution to the situation and let the miracle of God’s grace go to work in your life this Lent.