Over the next several weeks, my colleagues and I will be reflecting on the “I Am” statements in the Gospel of John. The practice of reflecting upon, and recalling who God is, should be a source of comfort for us – especially in times of trouble, grief, pain, or uncertainty. Sadly, as pastors and church leaders, our attention to Scripture is too often guided by our need to teach, to sermonize, or to provide guidance for others. But, to sit under Scripture, to be nourished, to receive comfort, to be read even as we are reading, these are the gifts that God’s gifts to us all.
I am reminded of how few times I can recall my mother sitting at a table and eating. She cooked professionally and, in our home, unless it was barbecue, she was the head chef. Even after long days of work, she could be found at the stove preparing a meal for the rest of us. She cooked the meals, and she fixed the plates – my Dad’s plate was first, then her five children, and then finally herself. Although, if I’m honest, I cannot recall a single time she sat down and ate. I understand it to some extent, because now as the primary cook in my family, sometimes after I’ve stood over and cooked and taste-tested and smelled all the smells, I don’t have much of an appetite either. Can you identify?
I feel like this is what happens to us pastors and clergy, when the ministry of the word is our calling and our vocation. We strive to serve others, and expend tremendous energy preparing meals for others, but we rarely really make it to the table for ourselves. We are a group of malnourished chefs, who desperately need to relinquish our unhealthy need to be needed and resist the expectation that we ought always to stand over the stove and the table. What do you think?
Sit down and eat. The meal is already prepared. We are not sustained by our service. Our sufficiency is not in ourselves. Our value, in God’s economy, is not determined by what we produce. Our satisfaction and our contentment must be in our Savior alone, who declares:
y ch. 4:14; 7:37; [ch. 5:40; Matt. 11:28; Rev. 7:16]