This morning in chapel at the seminary, I was struck by one of the hymns we sang. It’s “Rejoice! Rejoice, Believers”, an Advent hymn which makes reference to the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25. The second verse of the song begins “See that your lamps are burning, replenish them with oil.” As we sang, I realized that replenishing, restocking, is an essential part of waiting in expectation for the coming of Christ’s reign. While we are called to be busy going about the work and mission of Christ, we are also called to take time to replenish the oil of our lamps, that we may burn brightly, and not burn out.
Similarly, in this morning’s lectionary readings, Titus 1:7 jumped out at me because it says that church leaders are not to be “self-willed” (NASB95). The Greek is authades, and other translations render it “arrogant” or “overbearing”. Self-willed is an accurate translation, though, because the word refers to the action of seeking what pleases oneself, by implication at the expense of others. How often do pastors and other church leaders burn out because we are too authades? To be a “self-starter” may be a good characteristic in other jobs, but it always becomes dangerous when we are motivated by our own desires. What more appropriate remedy to both self-motivation and burn-out than sabbath rest – the deliberate cessation of all self-willed activity? I want to take this Advent season (and Christmas break) to dwell on this because I’m constantly growing more aware of the places where I operate out of my own desires and where I ignore my need for rest. Thank God that there’s freedom to rest in trusting that Christ is coming.
“Our hope and expectation, O Jesus, now appear!
Arise, Thou Sun so longed for, over this benighted sphere!
With hearts and hands uplifted, we plead, O Lord, to see
The day of earth’s redemption that brings us unto Thee.”
-Laurentinus Laurenti 1700, trans. Sarah Findlater –