This is the first in a special series on Sabbath by guest blogger Rev. Dianne Lawhorn. We offer these reflections in the hope that over the next few weeks you will feel invited to deepen your own Sabbath practice. Check back on the next three Mondays to read Dianne’s thoughts on this important topic.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I led a workshop recently at our Annual Conference on the concept of Sabbath. During this workshop, I asked participants to reach back into their memories and recall how they spent Sunday afternoons as a child. I could immediately see smiles and the look of wonder on people’s faces. It was as if the sweet aroma of a day when things seemed so much simpler swept across the room. Then, I asked the group to share with a neighbor about those memories. I looked around the room and heard people speaking of wonderful meals, time with family, taking long naps, and catching lightning bugs! I noticed less about what they said and more about the way that they said it. Their pace had changed, they had slowed down, and there was a peacefulness about their sharing. Were these folks really speaking of having a day where they slowed down long enough to enjoy a meal, to take a nap, or to catch a lightning bug?
It was a beautiful moment where the whole mood in the room shifted and we were ready to hear about Sabbath- rest. Sunday afternoons used to be a time for us to do things that we enjoyed, to relax, to rest. It was unhurried and leisurely and it didn’t feel at all like work. Times have changed, haven’t they? Now, our Sundays are really no different than any other day of the week. They are too full, too busy, harried even. Our Sundays are often a catch up day where we rush around trying to get everything done that wasn’t done during the week. Sunday isn’t a day of leisure anymore.
There is something sacred about the way that we used to spend our Sabbath days. This slower pace was good for us. This is something we have lost and I believe that it needs to be re-claimed. This is something we need, a pause in the pace of our busy lives. We need a day where our schedule doesn’t get inundated with work, a day to take a break from that endless hamster’s wheel of activity. We need a day of leisure, a lazy day, a day to slow down and enjoy the wonderful gifts that God has given us.
Dr. Matthew Sleeth, author of the book 24-6, says that what we need most is a “stop day,” a day to stop working, a day of rest. This stop is the thing that is missing from our lives. Reclaiming this stop is a great way for us to think about Sabbath-Rest. Doesn’t the idea of a stop day sound good to us? Don’t we need a day that calls us back into a rhythm that includes stopping, slowing, and resting? Don’t we need a day to cease from our labors? Doesn’t this feel like a gift that we’ve lost that needs to be reclaimed? …To be continued Monday, Nov. 4th.
–Rev. Dianne Lawhorn, MDiv