OWL Scripture Reflection – December 2023

By Rev. Amy Johnson
UCC Minster for Sexuality Education & Justice

“My presence will travel with you, and I will give you rest.”
~Exodus 33:14, The Voice translation

In this passage, God, the Eternal One, I Am that I Am, is talking to Moses, who is, frankly, a bit argumentative. Moses mildly threatens God (If you don’t travel with us, then don’t lead us away from here….and if you’re really who you say you are, show me!) and gets a bit pouty and whiny (How are people gonna trust that I have your trust??)

I mean, who among us can’t relate a bit? When we get tired, when justice seems to have left the building/community/nation/world, we can get cranky. When things aren’t going the way we want them to, or the way we think they should, or the way we think God wants them to, we can be tempted to bargain and threaten too. Show me a sign! Give me strength! Help me carry on!

The desire to create a just and equitable world on earth as it is in heaven is strong, and fuels the faith of many of us. Yet, we are human, so we get tired and are prone to cry out to God for help to keep going.


Sometimes, what we really need is to rest.

Tricia Heresy, Founder of The Nap Ministry, repeats over and over in her manifesto that rest is resistance. Rest resists capitalistic culture, which uses and discards bodies like machines. Rest resists cultural messages to do more, be more efficient, create results for someone else’s bottom line. Rest resists the pull to define ourselves by how much we have achieved or how much we own. Rest brings us into connection with our bodies. Rest allows us space to dream, to wonder, to be.

This Advent, as we wait for Christ, as we wait for God to be born in a human body, as we wait for the justice and light we hope once again will be born into our world, let us remember to rest. Let us remember that newborn babies sleep. A lot.

God has promised to travel with us and give us rest—and we need to pull the veil of “have tos” and “shoulds” away from our eyes so we can see that it’s there.

So take a nap. Slow down. Create quiet time for yourself—even if it is a few moments staring out a window on your way somewhere else, or breathing outside air and noticing the nonhuman world around you for 30 seconds.

You are worthy of rest. Your body needs rest, and we need you to be your fully divine self in this work.

Rest is resistance. Merry Christmas.