Friday, July 22, 2016

Still Resting?

Sabbath is a time to stop. To refrain from being seduced by our desires, to stop working, stop making money, stop spending money. See what you have. Look around. Listen to your life. Do you really need more than this?... You cannot buy “stopped.” You simply have to stop. —Wayne Muller, Sabbath.

I hope you have had good week and had a chance to string along some thoughts from this Sunday’s meditation on Sabbath. Through a creation-ordained, weekly rhythm we are invited to stop (rest and contemplate), shout (worship and delight), and share (mercy and community). Shouting, stopping and sharing don’t come naturally for any of us, but rather are gained through reliance on the Holy Spirit, a reliance born in faith. This is why for some, the Sabbath so embodies the heart of the Gospel (a free gift, received by faith). What a gift it must have been for the Israelites to be told by God in Exodus 20 that one day in seven there was to be a comprehensive, communal ceasing of labor. This was a slave nation who for 400+ years was not allowed to stop, who had to produce more at greater speed. But that is not our God, and it is not the gospel. God said, “Stop. Delight in me. Share with one another. Right the wrongs. Enjoy forgiveness. Eat the fat. Drink the sweet wine. Take a nap.”

So are you ready for Sabbath? It is right around the corner. Be thinking of it ahead of time. Long for it. Prepare for it. And then relish when it comes. Be assured that God will meet you there and transform you, which in itself is a great motive to embrace Sabbath.

But what if your Sabbath rhythms are messed up or you are working through baggage from the past or pressures in the present? As with anything, don’t let past failures stop you from making fresh starts. Lynne Baab, in her book Sabbath Keeping reminds us that, “The goal of Sabbath keeping is not to get it right the first time or even to get it right over time.” It is a gift. Received by faith and to be enjoyed in the weekly repetition, even as we long for the Eternal Sabbath!

Almighty God who, after the creation of the world, rested from all your works 
and set apart a day of rest for all your creatures, grant that I may put away all earthly anxieties, prepare me, Lord, to worship, grant that my Sabbath on earth 
may be a preparation for the eternal rest prepared for your people in heaven. 
Adaptation from the Book of Common Prayer

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