Over the last few weeks we have been preparing for our annual Ministry at Work retreat and waiting
with anticipation for those God is nudging to come along. It’s not unlike preparing for a holiday. We
chose our destination in rural Staffordshire. The location is far from traffic and very quiet,
surrounded by meadows and swathes of summer flowers. We had the date planned for months and
the theme too. We have worked out the running order with various interesting items during the day
so that those who have not experienced retreat will get a good introduction whilst those more
experienced will also be refreshed and renewed. We have taken many of the same decisions that
families make when going away to a new place.
Our theme is based on Matthew 11:28-30.
In the Message version it reads like this:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover
your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company
with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
We could replace the word “religion” with life, work, study or many other things. The idea of holiday
or “Holyday” as it was originally, means to get away and have a rest.
As the pace of life overtakes us, and the work-life balance seems always unbalanced, as the
expectations of others seem ever higher, where do we go to pause, to refresh and to renew
Here we read that Jesus was talking tenderly to the people, and saying” Come to me” and “recover
your life” he offers us “real rest” and wants us to simply hang around with him.
This can feel indulgent and non-productive which is exactly what he wants us to overcome. So as we
begin to think about what we can expect from a retreat, it will involve hanging around with Jesus,
taking a rest, and keeping company with him as we slowly unravel the from the pressures of life.
The challenge will be how to retain some of that rest, to keep renewing ourselves in his company,
and maybe just watching out for the “ill-fitting” stuff- which often comes from our own desire to
cram more and more into our day to day. This summer spend some time in the company of Jesus, he
is expecting you!