URC Daily Devotion 1st July 2023

Saturday, 1 July 2023 The Disciples Rest

St Matthew 26: 36 – 46

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;  the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again he went away for the second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’ Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’


We finish our reflections on rest by thinking about the disciples’ resting in Gethsemane.  We can be quite judgy about them – after all we know all that’s going to happen next.  If we’d been there we’d, of course, stayed awake and watched with our Lord!  Or would we?  Passover meals are meals well lubricated with wine – few of us would not be a little sleepy after a good meal and four glasses of heavy Israeli wine.  After the heat of the day, a nice cooler evening, a full stomach, the pressures of the week forgotten, and after a good red most of us would drop off.  Jesus was, clearly, disappointed but he had the horror of the knowledge of all that was to come keeping him awake, they didn’t.

Sometimes we ignore the need to rest, other times we rest when there is stuff to be done.  Sometimes we sleep through the big things of life.  Other times it suits the Powers for us to be dozing away ignoring what’s going on.  Despite huge campaigns, many could not vote in the English elections in May as they did not have the photo ID that had been quietly slipped into law.  Pension age rises here are passed barely without notice; in France even a modest increase to the age of 64 produced months of rioting.  

So at the end of our reflections on rest I have two contradictory suggestions – rest and wake up!  Rest, take time for recreation, for walking, reading, listening to music, appreciating art, spending time with loved ones, nurturing body and soul.  Wake up!  See what’s going on around us; ask whose interests are served by the laws passed and agendas set; agitate and resist where the Powers bring only oppression and gloom.  Take your rest, but wake up and act!


No more will you rest now, no more take your ease now,
no more let your life go by, always you will seek her,
forever desire her until the day that you die.
Her love will consume you, blazing deep within you
burning away all that is not true,
until you embrace her, in flesh and in spirit,
holy you and wholly you.

Kathryn Galloway
v3 of The Love Burning Deep

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Today’s writer

The Rev’d Andy Braunston is the URC’s Minister for Digital Worship and member of the Peedie Kirk URC in Orkney.


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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