That evening his disciples came to him and said, “It is already very late, and this is a lonely place. Send the people away and let them go to the villages to buy food for themselves.”
“They don’t have to leave,” answered Jesus. “You yourselves give them something to eat!”
“All we have here are five loaves and two fish,” they replied.
“Then bring them here to me,” Jesus said. He ordered the people to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. Everyone ate and had enough. Then the disciples took up twelve baskets full of what was left over. The number of men who ate was about five thousand, not counting the women and children.
As a parent of little children, when fatigue was so great, sometimes a simple escape to the laundry to fold washing was luxury! It was not lack of love or commitment, but the realization that a simple step to the side enabled a ‘quiet time’ that offered a great deal.
- Respite (withdraw, break the routine, a ‘short holiday’ refocusing on the positive)
- Rest (even 10-15 minutes resets the brain, relaxes the body, lowers the heart rate)
- Refreshment (a cuppa for nourishing the body AND the soul)
- Renewal (breathing in with the Spirit, breathing out all that can be left behind)
This retelling shows the depth of Jesus’ pastoral care and ministry through his practice of seeking the lonely or ‘alone’ place, withdrawing by himself, and signally a need for rest. It is important to be alert to this need in our ministry and life, and respond. Jesus did. Sometimes, a short time is enough. Sometimes, a longer time is needed.
On seeing the crowd, Jesus was filled with compassion and reached out unconditionally, curing the sick and being present with the community. Jesus kept giving because he also sought the ‘alone’ space that gave back to him. It nourished his heart and soul, and his mind and body. While the disciples questioned every step, Jesus wisely found the lonely space, so he could continue to bless and break bread, ensuring abundance for all to eat and be filled.
This is a story of endurance in ministry, that enables love, gracious hospitality, abundant generosity and deep pastoral care, ONLY when we find our own respite, rest, refreshment and renewal. Where are we called to offer this abundance of love? How do we find the balance? Where can we assist others to practice selfcare?
Seek that ‘alone’ space, for respite, rest, refreshment and renewal,
so as to notice and respond, with unconditional and ministering love.
When we are calling, you are there, O listening Friend.
When we are fatigued and drawn, you are seeing, O seeing Friend.
When we are saddened and down-hearted, you are caring, O loving Friend.
When we are sleeping and resting, you are watching, O compassionate Friend.
Our loving God,
we come as we are.
We call to you, in honesty,
tired from the week, fatigued by demands,
and longing for rest that will bring refreshment.
Come alongside, and let us know your presence,
O Comforter and Friend. Amen, Amen, Amen
Acknowledging Our Faith And Community Leaders
Churches Together SA recognises the commitment of all our Church and community leaders, in local Churches, state offices and agencies. Leaders of Christian Churches in South Australia meet regularly across each year or spiritual companioning, support and encouragement, through the Receptive Ecumenism approach of listening, learning, and living in the way of Christ, for unity and understanding.
Let us remember to offer prayer for their health and wellbeing, that they may seek spaces in their schedules to withdraw and be renewed, for their spiritual healing and growth. Let us also offer prayer for their families and significant others.
We acknowledge, in love and support, that they are generous in their call to ministry. We note their commitment, their personal practice of abundant and loving care for all God’s people, both across our church communities and beyond, in the wider community in South Australia. We also acknowledge and pray for leaders across our community, our state leaders, and our national leaders.
To pastoral carers, ministry team leaders, deacons, pastors, priests, ministers, bishops, presidents, state ministers, moderators, administrators, chancellors, general secretaries and national leaders, we thank you, and pray as a community of faith, in solidarity and with the love of Christ…
May you find rest for your soul and time to seek the ‘alone’ place of peace for prayer and renewal with God.
A Prayer For Our Faith Leaders
We bring before you our leaders….
A silence is kept as we recall our denominational leaders
We recall the leaders in our church and give thanks for their care.
We remember compassion fatigue that comes in pastoral work, and the need for rest.
May we be aware and support them, when they need to withdraw.
We recall the leaders of the wider churches, across all denominations…
A silence is kept as we recall other denominational leaders
We remember the critical thinking, deep learning,
commitment and attentiveness that is required.
May we be aware and keep them all before us in prayer.
We recall the leaders of our wider community in this state….
A silence is kept as we recall our state and national community leaders
We remember the breadth of knowledge, commitment beyond self,
and the willingness to serve that comes with its own costs.
May we be aware and hold our community in prayer.
We recall the world leaders, who have such great responsibility.
A silence is kept as we recall our world leaders
We remember the multi-skilled leadership that is required,
and the critical understanding of misuse of power.
May we be aware and pray for their wisdom and personal strength to serve.
God of compassion and care, hear our prayers. Amen
This reflection & prayers may be shared as long as the original writer is credited.