This is the second in a special series on Sabbath by guest blogger Rev. Dianne Lawhorn. Please read the first installment here. 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 two Mondays to read the rest of Dianne’s thoughts on this important topic.
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Now this idea of observing a “stop day” isn’t a new one. It was thought of long before any of us were. We find it in the biblical concept of Sabbath-keeping. I love the way that Exodus 20:8 gives us this command: “Remember the Sabbath Day and Keep it Holy.” Dr. Matthew Sleeth speaks of this. He says “In the beginning of time, God created for 6 days and what did God do on the 7th day? He rested. God created the world and said it was good. God created humans and he said they were very good. God created the Sabbath and he said it was holy.”
The Sabbath was something that God created, observed, and modeled for us, not because God needed it, but because God knew we needed it. That’s why God provided it for us as a gift, blessed it for us, and made it holy. Sabbath was all about helping the Hebrew people to establish rhythms for life that would sustain them. Their identity was shaped by embracing God’s rhythm of working for 6 days and resting on the 7th day, letting it be a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. The Hebrew people were no different than we are, they didn’t think they could take a day free from work and still get everything done. Moses encouraged them to trust that God would take care of their needs. With baby steps, they learned how to cease from their labors, how to enter Sabbath- rest. Developing this pattern in their lives involved a radical re-ordering of their priorities.
Do we think we’ve evolved beyond needing this rhythm that God created for the people? If we are honest, we’ll admit that we need this radical re-ordering of our priorities, now more than ever. The business, the hurry, the overload of our lives is so much less than what God wants for us. We’ve been missing out on the pace of a Sabbath day for a long time, on experiencing a rhythm that includes stopping, slowing, and resting. Can you imagine what this might look like, feel like, and mean to our lives to have a day every week for Sabbath-rest?
So, maybe for pastors Sunday can’t be our Sabbath. We can certainly claim this kind of a day on another day of the week, can’t we? I believe Sabbath-rest can be a reality for us, if we recognize the need for it, and create space in our lives for it. Maybe we, like the Hebrews, could simply take a baby step today by embracing even just an hour of true Sabbath time.
May God guide us as we seek to recover this precious gem that has been lost, so that we can experience a new rhythm of life that includes holy rest. With a deep breath, a prayer intention, and willing trust in God to provide for our needs, let us begin to reclaim the gift of Sabbath-rest.
Image from Flickr user Grand Canyon NPS, via Creative Commons.