This week I encourage you to practice Sabbath rest. Consider taking a four-hour block of time, or a full day away from work to connect with God and others in your life. Engage in a life-giving activity you enjoy and helps you experience God’s goodness and grace in your life. God’s grace and peace to you this week.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:1-3
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Genesis 20:8-11
“A Sabbath rest still remains for the people of God…Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest.” Hebrews 4:9, 11
A Poem by Wendell Berry from This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems, Counterpoint Press 2013
Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day,
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.
An yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.
When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.
Excerpt from Working the Angles, by Eugene Peterson. Eerdmans Publishing, 1987:
The Hebrew evening/morning sequence conditions us to the rhythms of grace. We go to sleep, and God begins his work. As we sleep he develops his covenant. We wake and are called out to participate in God’s creative action. We respond in faith, in work. But always grace is previous. Grace is primary. We wake into a world we didn’t make, into a salvation we didn’t earn. Evening: God begins, without our help, his creative day. Morning: God calls us to enjoy and share and develop the work he initiated. Creation and covenant are sheer grace and there to greet us every morning. George MacDonald once wrote that sleep is God’s contrivance for giving us the help he cannot get into us when we are awake.
We read and reread these opening pages of Genesis, along with certain sequences of Psalms, and recover these deep, elemental rhythms, internalizing the reality in which the strong, initial pulse is God’s creating/saving word, God’s providential/sustaining presence, God’s grace.
As this biblical genesis rhythm works in me, I also discover something else: when I quit my day’s work, nothing essential stops. I prepare for sleep not with a feeling of exhausted frustration because there is so much yet undone and unfinished, but with expectancy. The day is about to begin! God’s genesis words are about to be spoken again. During the hours of my sleep, how will he prepare to use my obedience, service, and speech when morning breaks? I go to sleep to get out of the way for awhile. I get into the rhythm of salvation.
Sabbath extrapolates this basic, daily rhythm into the larger context of the month. The turning of the earth on its axis gives us the basic two-beat rhythm, evening/morning. The moon in its orbit introduces another rhythm, the twenty-eight-day month, marked by four phases of seven days each. It is this larger rhythm of the seventh day, that we are commanded to observe. Sabbath-keeping presumes the daily rhythm, evening/morning. We can hardly avoid stopping our work each night as fatigue and sleep overtake us. But we can avoid stopping work on the seventh day, especially if things are gaining momentum. Keeping the weekly rhythm requires deliberate action. Sabbath-keeping often feels like an interruption, an interference with our routines. It challenges assumptions we gradually build up that our daily work is indispensable in making the world go. And then we find that it is not an interruption but a more spacious rhythmic measure that confirms and extends the basic beat. Every seventh day a deeper note is struck-an enormous gong whose deep sounds reverberate under and over and around the daily timpani percussions of evening/morning, evening/morning, evening/morning: creation honored and contemplated, redemption remembered and shared.
Reflection (~25 min.)
We invite you to write a journal entry of up to a page responding to what you have read. You may want to consider the following question as a starting point for your reflection:
- When have you experienced Sabbath rest that has refreshed your soul? Reflect on a day, or season when you experienced this rest.
- What resonated with, challenged, or encouraged you in these words from Wendell Berry and Eugene Peterson?
- Why do you think this spoke to you? With what from your life does this connect?
- What is God’s invitation for you here?
The first clip is from the resource, Emotionally Healthy Discipleship.
Reflection (~15 min.)
We invite you to decide on your next step in the cultivation of Sabbath. Here are a couple of suggestions. Consider starting with a four-hour block of time, or a full day.
- Consider taking a technology Sabbath where you disconnect from your phone, email, or TV for a four-hour block of time, or a full day. Engage in a life-giving activity you enjoy and helps you experience God’s goodness and grace in your life.
- Practice taking a four-hour block of time, or a full day to rest from work. Engage in a life-giving activity you enjoy and helps you experience God’s goodness and grace in your life.