Rest and Restoration by Jamie Jones-Buchanan
Played Rugby League for Leeds Rhinos for 22 years where he is now Assistant Coach
After 22 years of playing professional Rugby league, a game through which I both came to faith and fulfilled my boyhood dream of playing for 'The Leeds Rhinos', I retired and became an assistant coach in 2019.
Since then I have found myself having to learn all the nuances of a new trade, a new role and identity. The new job is a difficult enough at the best of times: trying to lead 30 professional athletes in the same direction, in pursuit of one mission. During the global pandemic - arguably the most calamitous time for several generations - it's been even harder. The past two years have brought many of us very little rest and no holidays – though plenty of lessons in perseverance and resilience
I am fortunate that through this time, my relationship with my wife and our four boys within the sanctuary of our home has served both as a loving refuge and a reminder of the blessed rest that awaits us in Christ.
Reading: Mark 6:30-34
The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, 'Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while' for many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
For me, Christmas is a time when so many blessings are manifest and amplified here on earth as in heaven. Wider society accepts Christmas as a holiday season, a time of joy and Christmas spirit. And a time when - even as the rest of the year seems to get busier - many people pause and regroup with friends and loved ones.
In our Bible reading today, Jesus invites his disciples to 'come away and rest a while' with him, after weeks of endless 'coming and going'. Jesus and his disciples are seeking rest - but the story goes on to describe how crowds follow them. Tired as he is, Jesus shares with them the good news of the redemption hope he came in the world to bring. And later he goes on to feed their bodies as well as their souls with five loaves and two fish. He restores them, body and soul.
Pause today and think about what Christmas means to you
Could the gifts remind you of the grace God has given to us
Could the food remind you of the spiritual bread Jesus offers?
Could moments of rest remind you of the blessings of being close to Jesus?