Sunday’s Sermon: Napping in Church

  • Being a new mom of twins, there are a lot of things that I’ve learned in the past 3 months.
    • Best way to get stains out of just about everything
    • Always always always know location of at least 3 different burp clothes
    • Prioritize what needs to get done now & what can get done in about 18 years
    • And one of the most important things that I’ve learned is the value of a good nap! Sleep, my friends, is a beautiful thing. Or maybe I should say “re-learned.”
      • Naps = big part of our lives as young children, but too soon, we start to lose our appreciation for naps
        • Anyone who’s cared for young children can tell you how important “nap time” can be
          • E.g.s from wedding
        • Nap time = enforced in kindergarten, but then hit 1st grade – too cool for napping (very sad day)
        • And then we go all the way through elementary school and high school not appreciating the true beauty that is the nap.
      • Rediscover glory of the nap somewhat in college
        • I’d be willing to bet that you could step onto any campus at just about any time of day and find people spread out on any available surface, padded or not.
      • But even those naps were nothing compared to the length and importance of the naps we’ve learned to take as new parents.
    • And what is it about naps that make them so fabulous? –> refreshing
      • Allow our bodies to take a break from all the chaos around us
      • Allow us to lay down not only ourselves but our burdens, too
      • Now, I know this may sound odd, but God’s love is the most amazing nap you will ever take in your entire life. Seriously!
        • Allows us refuge from chaos around us
        • Allows us to lay our burdens down
        • Ultimately refreshing
        • Actually, God’s love is better than any nap you’ll ever take because it’s unconditional, and it’s available anytime – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  • See this in Scriptures for this morning –> renewing nature of God’s love
    • Unconditional –> Think about it …
      • Conditions required to take a nap
        • Comfortable position
        • Semi-quiet
        • Semi-darkness
      • But our relationship with God is more open than that.
        • Come to God anywhere
        • Come to God under any circumstances
        • Come to God just as we are –> see especially in Ps
          • Once again, people of Israel have been less-than-perfect – text: But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.[1] –> Time and again throughout their history, Israel turned from God to follow after other idols, other gods, and other cultures. Time and again God called after them, desiring nothing greater than their return. And time and again, when they found themselves in trouble, Israel returned to God. And God welcomed them back with loving, forgiving arms.
            • Scholar: Psalm 81 suggests that even in the absence of the people’s choice to listen to and to follow God, they are still “my people.” The people will live finally by grace, by God’s compassion and willingness to forgive.[2]
      • Not so different from our lives –> all sorts of things distract us: money, job, other obligations, stress, others’ expectations, and that unconditional love of God extends to us, too.
        • Part of that unconditional love = willingness to shoulder our burdens for us
          • Ps: I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket.[3]
          • Matt: Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.[4]
        • There is no extent to which God will not go for us. There is no burden that is too heavy for God to bear, no task too great for God to accomplish on our behalf.
          • Ps speaks to this: I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.[5] –> Remember, this was no small task for God.
            • Spoke to Moses in burning bush
            • 10 plagues to convince Pharaoh
            • Pillar of cloud & fire to lead Israelites through desert
            • Parting the Red Sea for Israelites & wiping out Pharaoh’s army
            • Dealing with Israelites’ complaints in the wilderness
            • Saga that takes 40 long chapters in Exod. –> But God did all these things for the people of Israel because God loved them. Bringing them out of slavery into the promised land was a labor of love.
      • God’s greatest labor of love = Jesus Christ –> God loved us so much that God sent Jesus – God’s only son – to carry out that promise of unconditional love, in all its beauty and pain, all its agony and glory.
        • Phil: He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.[6]
        • God knew our sins were going to weigh heavy on Jesus’ head – that he was going to have to accept many horrible things for our sake even though Christ himself was sinless. And yet, God’s only son came to earth anyway, to bring us that unconditional love and to teach us to share it with one another.
  • The other thing that makes God’s love even better than a nap is availability. God’s love is a part of our lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
    • As much as we’d love to, can’t just take a nap anytime we want to –> various demands on our time
      • Appointments
      • Work obligations
      • Family commitments
    • But no matter what, we can always find refuge when we call out to God.
      • Find this reassurance in gospel – text: Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.[7] –> no time frame, no caveats, no questions asked
      • See constancy and care in Ps: In distress you called, and I rescued you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! … I would feed you with the finest of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.[8] –> God is promising to provide for the people of Israel – to lead them and care for them and give them fulfillment if they would only follow God. And God makes that same promise for us. “O that my people would listen to me, that you all – you, sitting there at the Goodhue County Fair – o, that you would listen to me and follow my guidance.”
      • Experience refuge in “real life” all the time
        • Everyday cases of God being available at all times
          • Dealing with things at work –> seek patience, energy, creativity
          • A safe trip home on a dark road or a snowy night
        • Extreme cases
          • Story from “Voice of the Martyrs”
  • Think back to the naps you took as a child, or think about the times that you’ve watched your own children, grandchildren, siblings, or whoever while they slept.
    • Describe way Ian and Luke sleep
    • There’s an innocence there because children know that, even as they sleep, they’re safe. They know that there’s always someone there to protect them – someone that was there when they closed their eyes and will still be there to care for them when they open their eyes again. Our faith in God coupled with God’s love for us is like that.
  • As I was preparing this sermon, I was listening to a lot of the praise music that I have specifically in search of lyrics that had to do with rest. I was afraid that I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for.
    • Lots of praise music is upbeat
    • On the contrary, I found more songs than I could fit into a dozen sermons on resting in God. But one song stuck out among all the rest. I’m going to leave you with the lyrics of that song.
      • You’re right where you have always been. Take me back to the place that I once knew as a little child. Constantly, the eyes of God watched over me. Oh, I want to be in the place that I once knew as a little child – fall into the bed of faith prepared for me. I will rest in you. I will rest in you. I will rest in you.[9] Amen.

[1] Ps 81:11-12.

[2] J. Clinton McCann, Jr. “The Book of Psalms: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary series, vol. 4. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996), 1004.

[3] Ps 81:6.

[4] Mt 11:28.

[5] Ps 81:10.

[6] Phil 2:8.

[7] Mt 11:29.

[8] Ps 81:13, 16.

[9] “I Will Rest in You” by Jaci Velasquez, © 2010.

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