“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” It’s hard to explain this commandment to a Confirmation class. “There’s a commandment that says we have to go to church?” Well, yes and no. Sabbath is first and foremost about holy rest. Taking time to raise our voices in gratitude and praise to our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer is only a precious part of that rest.
The story, set in the earliest contact we have with God is that after all the labor around creating a universe for humanity to inhabit with God, God took at day off. It wasn’t filled with grocery shopping, extra work, lawn care or boating. It was time for a nap, to play with his new friends, and to look around in appreciation for how well things had come together.
Some of us have been reading “Sabbath: Finding time for Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives,” by Wayne Muller. We have learned a new appreciation for the idea of Sabbath rest. Whether it is a minute each hour, an hour a day, a day each month or a week a year, every being needs rest. In that time we learn freedom to see ourselves in God’s presence. We have time to treasure the true gifts in our lives – the things that money can’t buy. We are allowed the time to step off the track of consumer spending and the madness of economic growth to see our true worth in God’s eyes and to bask in the love that surrounds us for who we are, not for what the world demands of us. We learn to see our problems and worries in a larger picture of God’s love to God’s people over a lifetime, over generations, and over history.
The time we have spent reading has been informative, but what has proved most delightful for us has been the time we have set aside to be together in the gathering area on Monday nights for an hour or so. Setting aside the time to get to know each other’s struggles with Sabbath, and each other’s strategies for finding this holy rest has been a gift. We have so much in common in our striving and have learned so much in letting go of the need to strive. Each of us walks away feeling as if the time itself has been holy rest as we treasure the support we receive in our efforts to be faithful to our commitment.
As summer hurtles headlong toward cooler weather and Fall commitments, I wish you the joys of Sabbath rest: open time to reflect with gratitude on green and growing things around you, visits with friends and family into the long evenings, a good book in the cool morning hours, and glorious sunrises and sunsets that stir your heart in wonder at the beauty of creation. May these gifts of a loving God fill you with joy and renew your spirit. May worship on these hot summer mornings give you the chance to lift your hearts and voices in community to thank God for such sweetness. May the blessings of Sabbath be upon you.