From the Pastor's Desk
The Rhythms of Life
In the May-June edition of the newsletter, I quoted a colleague who reminded us that God’s plan for God’s people was a rhythm – for six days, work. On the seventh day, rest and worship. Work. Rest. Worship. Work. Rest. Worship. Work. Rest. Worship.
The rest/worship portion of the rhythm is called “Sabbath” – from the Greek word, “sabaton” and the Hebrew word, “shabbat” – which means “to rest.” In the first mention of Sabbath, in Genesis, the reference is to God’s day of rest as the completion of the Creation. In the period following the exodus from Egypt, when God gave the law to Moses, the fourth commandment says, “8Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.” (Ex. 20:8-10a)
In Leviticus 25, the Lord commands a Sabbath Year – that is a year in which the fields will not be sown, the vineyards will not be planted. In the instruction, the trust is that the land will provide for the needs of the people even while lying fallow. As most of you know, the principle of rotating crops and leaving the field fallow for a season of rest is still practiced today to ensure that the land is not stripped of nutrients vital to the growth process.
The rhythm of Work. Rest. Worship. was given to us by God as a means of providing for health and wholeness, physically, mentally, emotionally and especially spiritually. The day of rest, the day of worship is a day that allows us to turn our focus from inward to outward. From ourselves, to others. From ourselves to God. And in so doing, we find peace.
In mid-July, I went on a Pilgrimage to England to trace the life stories and ministries of John and Charles Wesley – the “founders” of the movement that became United Methodism. One of the decisions I made before leaving was to leave my laptop computer at home – something I seldom do.
It’s hard for me to disconnect from church doings – whether it’s finishing up some task or check-ing up on people on facebook, reading and responding to emails and making notes for future ser-mons and such, when my computer is with me, I am always at work. This makes for a challeng-ing Sabbath for me. My Sabbath is not on Sunday, but on Friday. Monday is my day to do stuff – doctor appointments, laundry, pay bills, etc. Friday is my day to rest. To spend simply being … not being busy, not worrying about what’s happening around me. On Fridays, I get to be.
But I have never, ever had a Sabbath Year. A prolonged time away to focus on my own spiritual growth and renewal. That’s what the Pilgrimage was for me. A chance to rest, to worship, to open myself further to the leading and leaning of God, to come back to center. Without my com-puter, without television, without social media, turning off my church email from my phone, Sab-bath rest was made possible.
I hope you will seek to use Sabbath each week to rest, to worship, to open yourself further to the leading and leaning of God. I hope you will find and take time for prolonged Sabbath, disconnect-ed from the chaos of the world. I hope you will pray, and seek God’s face.
See you in church!