Sermon: “Time to Recharge”
The Rev. Karin Kennedy Hejmanowski ~ Aug 30, 2009
Mark 1:35-39 Psalm 103:1-8 One of the things that has amazed or amused me in parenthood are the toys. Not just how many
options there are or how many things stores would like us to buy or try to make us think are
necessary for Josiah’s development, though that is all true, for sure. Nor is it just how much toys
have changed since I was little or even since I used to babysit little ones, though that is also true.
No, what really amazes me is actually how many batteries are required. I don’t remember ever
buying triple A batteries before. Or seeing so many places where double A’s could be used. Nor
can I remember needing so many size D batteries. But if one chooses to make the bouncy seat
vibrate and the swing swing on its own and the exersaucer light up and sing and every toy do
everything it was manufactured to do, well, that’s just a whole lot of batteries! —and we haven’t
chosen to use all the toys to their fullest, but it’s still a lot of them.
It became clear to us at the very beginning that the way to go was to get a battery charger and
rechargeable batteries. It’s magical. Batteries run out of juice, you put them in the little charger,
and in the morning wa la! Fresh batteries! I wish my own energy were so easy to refresh and
In our passage today, Jesus does some recharging of his own. Were we to go back and review
what was going on in the passages before the one we read, we would find that he has been more
than a little busy. He has been preaching and healing people left and right. His ministry has
been to women and men, old and young, Jews and Gentiles. But more than anything else, it has
been busy. His schedule is packed. Or at least wherever he goes, people follow and flock to him
because they have heard of his authority, his great teaching, and his ability to heal.
When his day finally comes to an end and people meander back to their homes, he must be tired.
I can imagine that, being fully human as well as fully divine, his body must have absolutely
craved sleep. So then when I come to Mark 1:35, the verse is striking. To read that Jesus got up
early in the morning while it was still dark is pretty impressive to me. Something was
significantly more important than his own sleep and probably than some of his own desires.
But beneath the layers of exhaustion, Jesus was able to recognize that his physical exertion was
also spiritual. That his spirit needed recharging and refreshment as much as his body did. And
Having slept some, he then got up to spend time with God. Who knows how early it was. But I
know that for me, it’s always more difficult to get up and get going when it’s still dark out.
Perhaps the darkness provided a cover for Jesus to get out and find a place without others seeing
him. The paparazzi, such as it was in that day, would not be expecting him to be out so early and
so word wouldn’t spread that he was on the move.
And so he went and found a deserted place. Other versions call it a lonely place or a solitary
place. And he began to pray, spending time with his father. I wonder what you pray about when
you’re the second person of the godhead. Having become fully human, I wonder if he ran
through the experiences of the day before with God. Telling him what the things were that broke
his heart. Telling God how sad he felt when he saw people that weren’t whole. That seeing
people with open sores or unable to walk or unable to talk was just so painful to his heart. And
then perhaps sharing with God the joy that came as he was able to restore so many to health.
Probably just recounting the activities and healings and interactions of the previous day could
But I’m guessing he needed more than just catching up. He needed time just to be reminded of
the special relationship he shared with God. To spend time in silence listening for God’s voice.
To hear God remind him how much he was loved and that as he lived life and did ministry, that
he was never, ever on his own. That God was right there with him every step of the way.
We do this in our relationships. Whether it’s with a best friend at school or work or with a
spouse or a sister or brother. We need time to catch up. We swap stories about life and the
happenings of the day. There are details about events that need to be shared or figured out. But
then, to keep the relationship fresh and growing, there’s time just to be together and to laugh and
And just as we need this with our friends, so we, like Jesus, need it with God. It’s easy to
assume that God is always with us, so we don’t need to take time out of already overpacked
schedules for specific relational time, but that’s not what this story about Jesus tells us. At least
that wasn’t true for him. Even in the midst of his busiest times, time with God became a priority.
The problem for me can be that I make time for those things that are felt needs. I know, and I
know now more than ever, that I need sleep. So I will make time for that. And my stomach will
tell me when it’s been too long since my last meal, so I’ll find some way to take care of
nutritional needs. And Josiah makes it very clear when he is in need of food or attention. His
cry quickly moves any of his needs to the top of my list of must-do’s, as you can imagine.
So really it comes down to immediate feedback for me. When my phone tells me in big letters
that it only has 10% of its power remaining, I quickly find the power cord. When the baby cries,
I figure out what’s needed. When I’m hungry, I eat.
But it’s the less urgent things that are more challenging to stay on top of, right? I know that
working out is good for me and that it’s the cumulative effect of exercising regularly that keeps
I have a cousin whose daughter’s face puffed up so as to make her unrecognizable after eating
some food they didn’t know she was allergic to. It was taken care of with some benadryl and
she’s fine, but it was the immediate feedback that made them take action and figure out what it
was that needed to be avoided or done on an on-going basis to keep her safe. Some of you know
In contrast, I don’t have food allergies, but food sensitivities. I can eat those things to which I
have sensitivities and be fine…for a while. But if I continually ignore what I know to be good
for my body, eventually the symptoms catch up with me. But because it’s delayed and
cumulative effect rather than immediate feedback, it can be tempting to ignore my dietary
guidelines and just eat the food that I love, even though it’s not good for me. And I’ve done this
at times. And then, over time, I have to get back on track, reminded that I’m at my best when I
follow these guidelines. I need to stay on track without waiting for feedback.
I think most of my relationships are like this and perhaps you find that, too. My relationships, be
it with colleagues or college roommates or family, while I may be able to pick up where we left
off, they’re more rich and rewarding when I stay in touch on an on-going basis. And in some
relationships it’s vital to be in touch whether that’s with a spouse or a boss or someone else.
Prayer is very much that way. My prayer life is less like my phone or the batteries in Josiah’s
toys that immediately tell me when they need to be recharged or replace. My relationship with
God is more like the response of my body to food or like my other relationships. When life gets
busy and I don’t do those things that maintain and develop my relationship with God such as
walking the labyrinth or reading scripture or spending time in prayer, I begin to feel distant from
Jesus recognized that need for regular contact and time with God…something I want to follow.
It seems like it would be so much easier to do all this if I were Jesus. I mean, he could do
anything. But that’s why I love the next verse. Here he is in prayer time and along come some
of the disciples. They’ve been searching for him and finally found him. Even Jesus is not free
of distraction. For him it was his companions…for us it may be the telephone or a call from
work or email or the kids interrupting. For him, it’s the disciples. Even they don’t fully
understand the value Jesus placed on spending time in prayer and meditation. They feel the need
to let him know that people are looking for him…no doubt wanting him to do more of the
incredible ministry that they saw yesterday. No doubt the crowds are growing as people flock to
But his time with God has not only recharged Jesus…it’s also redirected him. He has a very
clear sense that he’s not just supposed to keep doing what he’s been doing. He’s supposed to
continue on to other places and other people to continue preaching and healing there rather than
In that little statement about moving on to other towns and villages Jesus tells us that through his
time in prayer he has discerned that it’s time to move on. Time to do his work elsewhere. Time
to let others benefit from his ministry. And there’s a sense that there’s no questioning it or
asking him to reconsider. He’s confident in what he’s heard from God.
I remember one of the first times I walked a labyrinth. I came to my time at the labyrinth with a
very specific question. I can no longer recall what the exact question was, but that doesn’t
matter. As I walked the circuitous path of the labyrinth, letting go of all those things weighing
on my heart and mind, I was extremely surprised to have a very real sense that the question I had
brought was not the question I needed to be asking. Although that had been burning in my mind
and heart, God gently lifted that question from me and replaced it with another very clear
I didn’t leave feeling slighted or frustrated. Rather, I had a sense that I had come to the labyrinth
as one who lacked confidence in how to use it as a prayer tool and yet God honored my sincerity.
And I think that is so much of the starting point for prayer and for time with God.
It’s not about skill and experience and expertise, as much as those can sometimes be wonderful
things. But God looks for a sincerity and chooses to honor that in meaningful ways, redirecting
There are so many things that take energy and focus from our lives. And there are so many good
things to be involved in. And time is so short and vied for by so many activities and priorities.
And it will always be easy to let time with God go by the wayside just as exercise or good eating
habits might. But like those, we won’t get immediate feedback. Time will go by and we will
feel distant from God and spiritually drained or abandoned and possibly lacking focus and
wonder why. It’s because we’ve passed the time to recharge. We need to plug in, not to our
ipods and video games and computers, but to a habit of conversation and sitting in the presence
of God. For some this means asking others how they do it and what has worked for them. For
others it’s putting it on your calendar to set aside the time, whether it’s early in the morning
while it’s still dark, as Jesus did it, or during lunch or some other time that works. For some it
will be a lonely place…a garden or labyrinth. For others that place of alone-ness may actually
happen in the midst of a busy coffee shop as all the sounds and voices simply fade into white
As we continue to explore what it means to be rooted in Christ and reaching out in love, we
recognize that the two cannot be separated for long. It’s our rootedness, that spending time
deepening our relationship with Christ that gives us our focus and our direction to know where
and how to reach out in love. And as we reach out, we are driven back to God to again recharge
and refocus, lest we think we have the strength to do it on our own.
So take the first verse of our passage and make it your own. What is realistic for you. A time
frame, a place and an activity. Somewhat early in the morning, while it was still quiet, Karin
walked the labyrinth and prayed. Take a moment and decide what that sentence would read for
you. Make it your own and then consider how it might become a reality in your life this week.
Life moves fast. Life will carry you along and make setting aside time all but impossible if you
don’t decide to do it. But I’ve got a strong sense that there’s no time like the present…and it’s
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