Rest, Restore, and Explore

Where the Mountains Meet the Water

The 2022 NEXT Church National Gathering is an invitation to rest, restore, and explore stories that need to be told – about why we rest, why we resist rest, and why some [of us] cannot rest.

You are invited to notice whose bodies are granted rest and whose bodies are harassed into rarely experiencing a moment of it. People of color, whose bodies are at risk when just walking down the street. People with disabilities, whose bodies are ignored and dismissed for expressing humanity differently. People who are queer and transgender, whose bodies are rejected for showing the breadth of God’s creation. People who are indigenous to this land, whose bodies are moved and removed simply for existing in the space they call home. People who are immigrants, whose bodies are called alien for daring to dream of a better world.

You are invited to the lakeshore, where the mountains meet the water, a reflection point, a place where you can bring your whole body, your whole breath, to rest. You are invited to sit at the water’s edge, and notice: what in you needs to be restored? What stories are nudging up to the surface longing to be told, to be heard? What is the rest of the story? What is your story of rest? Are we waiting until our labors are complete to let our body breathe? Listen to your breath. As we tell our stories, the place of rest within a story is the space of a breath, the pause that brings connection and harbors restoration.

Jesus knows this space where water meets the land. After the labor of feeding 5,000 hungry ones fish and bread, Jesus sends his disciples onto a boat, while he seeks a mountain to pray. While he is praying he notices the disciples struggling mightily with the wind and waves on the lake, so he walks on the water to them. The disciples are not afraid of the choppy waters – they are afraid when they see Jesus coming to them because they believe he is a ghost. When Peter takes his first steps out of the boat onto the water, he also is afraid of the miracle he is experiencing and begins to sink. What does this story have to teach us about the power of rest and the power of the stories we tell ourselves about what we are experiencing in the moment? Can we quiet our rocking boats enough to see more clearly what is around us? Do we miss the miracle when we are only attuned to the biting wind and choppy waves?

Written by Larissa Kwong Abazia, Lisle Gwynn Garrity, Alex McNeill, and Byron Wade
Drawing by Alex McNeill
Graphic design by Jo Owens

Questions? Contact Jen James.