Finding Direction

Who are you?

Pastor PaulWhat is our identity in the Bible?

What does the Bible say about who we really are?

What does the Bible say about our identity in Christ?

The Bible says that we are chosen by God and given a purpose. According to 1 Peter 2:9 it says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness in to his wonderful light”. This is God’s purpose for us. Often times we forget who we are and what God has done for us. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t allow feelings of insecurity to rob you of your identity in Christ. It is important that we see ourselves the way God sees us and then live in obedience to Him. God knows who we really are. He loves us and created us for a purpose. In order to get a better understanding of our identity in Christ read through the following passages:

Here is a list of Bible verses about our identity in Christ.

Psalm 139:13-16 
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

1 Peter 2:9 
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light
Jeremiah 29:11 
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Ephesians 1:4-5 
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-
Ephesians 2:10 
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Psalm 139:1-4 
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

Colossians 2:13-14 
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

John 1:12-13 
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Galatians 4:6-7 
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

1 Samuel 16:7 
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

John 15:15 
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Romans 5:1-2 
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Colossians 3:12 
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Galatians 3:26-27 
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Psalm 138:8 
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever-do not abandon the works of your hands.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:14-15 
because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Colossians 3:3-4 
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Ephesians 2:19 
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,

1 Thessalonians 5:5 
You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

Philippians 3:20 
But our citizenshiop is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Hebrews 3:14 
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

Matthew 5:13 
”You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

1 John 3:1 
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Matthew 5:14 
”You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden

1 Corinthians 3:16 
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
Romans 6:18 
You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

1 John 5:18 
We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 2:5 
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:6 
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

Pastor Paul.

Pastor Paul’s Five Suggestions for Consistent Bible Reading in 2013

1. Start within your limits.Pastor Paul

It is better to start reading passages that are “bite sized pieces” instead of swallowing a whale. At first I found it helpful to read one chapter a day, every day, than four a day, every now and then. Moreover, the value of prayerfully thinking and praying about what you have just read cannot be overstated.  I like the phrase “prayerfully thinking” rather than meditation because the term is overused and little understood within the Christian Tradition.  Read less, if you must, to pray and think more. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with a flood of  God’s truth in reading the bible day by day, but without absorption—and applying God’s truth—you will be little better for the experience.

2. Invite a friend or two for support.

When it comes to reading the Bible on a daily basis it helps to have some encouragement and accountability. We are part of a church family where we want to help each other grow and learn. It is easy to feel discouraged when you go it alone. To forestall the dangers of isolation, then, invite one or two others to join you in 2013. Set goals, make a commitment, and hold one another accountable. Turn your personal Scripture reading into a team effort, a community project. Every Day with Jesus, Daily Bread, the One Year Bible and other resources are available.

3. Find the time of day when you are at your best and stick to it.

I think it is important to set a specific time each day when you will get alone with God. My favorite spot is a corner of the living room, overlooking a tree outside,  a coffee handy and early in the morning. My goal is to read every day. In the past, when I had planned on reading the bible whenever I had a chance, there was a good chance, I hardly read it. I believe there is no such thing as time management, but I do believe in self management.

4. Do your best to get into the Old Testament.

“There is gold, in them there hills.” Reading the whole counsel of God, within the Old Testament will pay off in time. Yes there are difficult bits, but if we have the attitude that all of the bible ultimately points to the Word made Flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ we will go deep in our faith. Whenever and wherever you open your Bible, pray to believe that God has something here to say to you.

5. Don’t Turn Bible reading into a race or another check mark on your agenda.

We are encountering the Lord through his word. I have come to look at the bible as the Father’s love letter to the world and even to me. I see daily bible reading like taking vitamins. It has long term effect. Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly we want to be in it for the long haul.

The goal is soul. By that I mean we are on the road to being transformed more and more into the image of Jesus. His word is indispensable in that process. What we think about will lead us to what we pray about and that will bring some pretty amazing change into our lives. Enjoy the process.

So as another year starts I challenge all of us to commit ourselves anew to becoming men and women of the Word.
My prayer is that the Lord will continue to  transform us into the image of Jesus.

Pastor Paul

ANiC Synod 2012 Photos

Reflections on The Anglican Network in Canada Synod 2012

Dear friends,

“Five years ago we had 2 bishops and 2 churches within the Anglican Network in Canada. Now five years down the road we have 6 bishops, 150 clergy, almost 70 churches, church plants and projects and over 4000 people attending church on a weekly basis. There is much to be thankful to God.” So says Bishop Don Harvey our moderator.

Day 1 Wednesday November 14
8 people from St. Hilda’s were able to take part or observe ANiC’s fifth synod in Ottawa between November 14th and 16th. It was an encouragement to see what the Lord is doing within our fledgling diocese. On the first day of synod Archbishop Robert Duncan from Pittsburg led us in worship and the election of the new moderator who was to take over after Bishop Don retires. Bishop Charlie Masters was elected and we are grateful that our own area bishop will take on this new role. Please continue to pray for Bishop Charlie and Judy.
On the Wednesday evening five ANiC clergy and friends from Ottawa were able to rent the Scotia Centre Ice rink (Where the Ottawa Senators NHL hockey club play). It was very cool. (See attached pictures.)

Day 2 Thursday November 15
Bishop Don started the day with his charge to synod. To read the full content of his talk please visit the Anglican Network in Canada website.
The rest of the day was taken up with some of the business of synod. Finances, election of the new ANiC board and the budget for the coming year were on the agenda. Interspersed throughout synod were various presentations on some of the new church plants and initiatives. This was a highlight for me during synod. There are some amazing people doing very specialized ministry throughout our country. A constant theme is the need to reach this generation with the gospel of Christ. One amazing statistic was given from the Rev. Alan Hawkins who is the leader of Anglican 1000, (This is archbishop Bob Duncan’s challenge to plant 1000 churches in five years) he said, that in his part of the United States where some research was done with 27,000 university students, only 4% had regular church affiliation. There is much work to be done. He said, “that we have to see ourselves as missionaries.”

Day 3 Friday November 16
Synod concluded with more presentations and a service of Holy Communion.

It is truly amazing to be a part of a new movement were the gospel of Jesus is front and centre. We all yearned for a church that was a gospel church. We are now part of that. There are still challenges ahead and we continue to pray for the Lord to lead us.

God bless you
Pastor Paul


The Ven. Paul Charbonneau
Rector, St. Hilda’s Church
Regional Archdeacon, Southern Ontario
Anglican Network in Canada

The Father’s Love Dream

As in anything in our secular and spiritual life we go through difficult times. In the year 1989, at our first church, I was going through one of those rough patches. That summer I had a significant dream where I believe God spoke to me.

(You be the judge).

Pre-amble:

ONE SUMMER JOANNE AND I WENT ON A CAMPING HOLIDAY FEELING REALLY BURNED OUT. AS WE WERE DRIVING TO THE CAMPSITE, I SAID TO MY WIFE THAT I WASN’T SURE ABOUT BEING A PASTOR ANY MORE. I WAS DISILLUSIONED AND FELT THAT GOD WAS FAR AWAY. I WASN’T EVEN SURE IF GOD LOVED ME ANY MORE.  I WAS NOT SURE IF I SHOULD EVEN BE MINISTERING ANY MORE. JOANNE DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING TO ME AT THE TIME.  LATER ON I DISCOVERED THAT SHE WAS SILENTLY PRAYING THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WOULD SPEAK TO ME, EVEN IN A DREAM AS HE PROMISED IN JOEL 2, AND IN THE BOOK OF ACTS WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS BEING POURED OUT.

THAT NIGHT I HAD ONE OF THE MOST VIVID DREAMS I COULD REMEMBER:

IN THIS DREAM I WAS OUT IN A FIELD AT NIGHT WITH A FEW OTHER PEOPLE I DIDN’T RECOGNIZE. I WAS WATCHING THE NIGHT SKY, WHICH WAS CLEAR AND FILLED WITH STARS.

SUDDENLY THE SKY WAS FILLED WITH SHOOTING STARS, OR COMETS. THEY WERE EVERYWHERE FILLING THE SKY. WE WATCHED METEORS THE ENTIRE NIGHT.

(NOW I HAVE TO BREAK IN AT THIS POINT AND SAY, THAT WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I USED TO PLAY THIS SILLY GAME WHERE I WOULD TO SAY TO GOD, “IF YOU REALLY LOVE ME, SHOW ME A SHOOTING STAR!”)

EVEN WHILE I WAS HAVING THE DREAM, I AM REALIZING THE FATHER IS SHOWING ME HIS LOVE. AND SO ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT, THESE SHOOTING STARS FILL THE SKY. BUT THEN SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS TO THEM. THEY START TO FORM TOGETHER, AND SHAPE THEMSELVES INTO FETUSES. A KIND OF “NEW BIRTH”, OR BORN AGAIN THING. AGAIN EVEN IN MY DREAM I AM THINKING ABOUT THIS NEW CREATION OR RE-CREATIVE THEME.  THE SHOOTING STARS CONTINUE THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT IN MY DREAM UNTIL THE MORNING COMES. IN MY DREAM I AM IN AWE OF WHAT I HAVE EXPERIENCED AND SO LATER ON I AM DRAWN BACK TO THE FIELD. I WALK AROUND THE FIELD SEARCHING, NOT KNOWING FOR CERTAIN WHY.

AS I AM WALKING IN THE FIELD I MEET A MAN.

A FATHERLY SORT. HE LOOKS TO ME THE IMAGE OF A PERFECT FATHER. HE IS BALDING SLIGHTLY. HE HAS A TWEED JACKET WITH THOSE PATCHES ON THE ELBOWS AND WIRE RIMMED GLASSES. BUT WHAT CATCHES MY ATTENTION IS THAT HE IS NOT WEARING ANY SHOES OR SOCKS. IN FACT AS I GET CLOSER TO HIM, I NOTICE, HE HAS HOLES IN HIS FEET AND HIS HANDS.

AS HE APPROACHES ME HE TAKES ME INTO HIS ARMS, AND ASKS ME A FEW QUESTIONS.

AND AS I AM THINKING ABOUT MY RESPONSE, HE STARTS TO SHOW ME MY LIFE IN THE PAST. ALMOST AS IF I AM WATCHING ONE OF THOSE NEWS REELS. PAST EVENTS I COULDN’T EVEN REMEMBER, DOWN TO THE SILLIEST “PETTY” SINS. WHERE I HAD DONE OR SAID SOMETHING WRONG. ONE INSTANCE WAS A TIME I HAD LIED ABOUT MY SISTER AND SHE GOT INTO TROUBLE. I SAID TO THE FATHER, “I DON’T REMEMBER.” BUT HE DID, AND IT WENT ON AND ON. THE FATHER SHOWED ME ALL THIS, AND I STARTED TO WEEP AND CONFESS ALL THE THINGS THAT HE WAS SHOWING ME. TEARS OF REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION. DEEP, DEEP REMORSE OVER THE PAST.

THE MAN WAS TENDER, YET HE WAS FIRM. GRACIOUS AND LOVING, YET TOUGH ,FAIR AND HOLY. WHEN IT WAS ALL OVER, HE DID SOMETHING STRANGE.

HE STOOPED DOWN AND STARTED TO MINISTER TO MY FEET. I AM NOT SURE WHAT HE WAS DOING, BUT SOMEHOW IN MY DREAM I KNEW THAT I WAS TO BE PART OF THE PROCESS. IT WAS SIGNIFICANT. EVEN IN MY DREAM I AM THINKING ABOUT JOHN 13.

SUDDENLY IN MY DREAM I WAS TAKEN TO A MEETING HALL. IT WAS A  MEETING FILLED WITH NAZI WAR CRIMINALS IN GERMANY. ALL TYPES OF PEOPLE. WOMEN, MEN, YOUNG, AND OLD.

I STOOD UP IN THE FRONT AND STARTED TO PREACH AND SHARE WITH THEM ABOUT JESUS.

THEY WERE INSTANTLY TURNED OFF. THEY TURNED AWAY, MADE ANGRY FACES, SOMEONE EVEN POINTED A GUN AT MY HEAD, BUT I STILL PREACHED THE MESSAGE. I SINGLED OUT ONE MAN, WHO I THOUGHT WAS SOMEHOW TOUCHED BY THE MESSAGE. HIS NAME WAS OTTO, OR ORSEN, OR SOMETHING, I AM NOT SURE. AND I PREACHED EVEN MORE ENTHUSIASTICALLY AT HIM. HE WAS IN TURMOIL, BUT SOMETHING WAS HAPPENING TO HIS HEART. I CHASED HIM AROUND. THE OTHER PEOPLE CAME TO ME AND STARTED TO SHOW ME PICTURES OF HIS PAST.

TERRIBLE THINGS, TERRIBLE IMAGES OF HIS SIN. PREJUDICE AND HATRED AND VIOLENT IMAGES. I SAID TO THEM, “IT DOESN’T MATTER, COME TO THE FATHER IN THE FIELD.”

I WEPT BITTERLY FOR OTTO IN COMPASSION AND PAIN. I WAS IN AGONY BECAUSE I WANTED HIM TO MEET THE FATHER. SUDDENLY HE DID COME! AND I BROUGHT OTTO TO THE MAN IN THE FIELD. WE STOOD IN LINE AS OTHER PAIRS WERE BEING BROUGHT TO THE FATHER.

WHEN IT WAS OTTO’S TURN I WAS ABLE TO SEE HIS “NEWSREEL” OF HIS PAST. I WATCHED AS THE FATHER SHOWED HIM HIS LIFE. NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS, ABUSE, TORTURE AND HATRED WERE ALL EXPOSED TO OTTO BY THE FATHER. TO MY AMAZEMENT OTTO RESPONDED IN REPENTANCE AND HEARTFELT SORROW OVER HIS SIN. AND TO MY AMAZEMENT THE FATHER EXTENDED FORGIVENESS AND GRACE. I UNDERSTOOD MY TASK, I WAS TO BRING PEOPLE TO THE FATHER’S LOVE AND HE WOULD SHOW THEM THEIR SIN.

“IT IS HIS MERCY THAT LEADS TO REPENTANCE.” ROMANS 2:4

THEN I WOKE UP.

I REALLY BELIEVE THAT GOD IS CALLING THE CHURCH TO BE DILIGENT IN PROCLAIMING A MESSAGE OF COMPASSION, MERCY AND TRANSFORMATION TO THE LOST AND THE BROKEN. IT IS MY HEARTFELT PRAYER THAT THE CHURCH WILL RECEIVE THIS MESSAGE.

EVER SINCE THIS DREAM IN 1989 IT HAS BEEN MY MAIN THEME IN TEACHING AND PREACHING. IT IS ALL ABOUT GRACE.

Pastor Paul

What Pastor Paul does on his day off

My Sabbath Days

On my Sabbath I try to not work – that’s the key. I try not to be productive. I have no agenda except to spend the day with Jesus or Jesus and my family, doing whatever we want to do together.

My Sabbath may include sleeping in, that I rarely do.  I want to begin my Sabbath day with ample time to be sure to, “Do nothing… Don’t try to make anything happen.” In fact, my goal is to get into this disposition of rest starting at sundown the evening before my Sabbath.

On a Sabbath I usually fast from media. Keeping Sabbath is itself a fast from work.

I especially like to spend some time in God’s Word on my Sabbath day. The most restful way for me to do this is to slowly and deeply meditating on a verse from my  One Year Bible. Also I often will journal my prayers, meditations, and, especially, the things I sense God saying to me, which are the most precious entries in my prayer journal!  I don’t always do this perfectly. I miss some Sabbath days and sometimes fill it with too much stuff to do around the house.  The Hebrew word sabbath means “to stop” or “to desist,” and so during Sabbath time, we stop our work, we desist from our frantic scrambling to get more done. Like God, who “in six days…made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11), on the Sabbath we take time to rest.

Sabbath is far more than a day on which we restrain ourselves from working. Some of us may have childhood memories of Sundays hedged by rules of what we couldn’t do, and now we wrestle to figure out what’s “allowed” on this day. With such a perspective, Sabbath-keeping is flattened into a series of restrictions, and God begins to seem like a referee ready to blow the whistle when we make an error. For others of us, Sunday may feel like a “day off.” We’ve worked so hard all week that now we only want to “veg out” in front of the TV, our minds idling in neutral. In this context, we are hardly “keeping” Sabbath or anything else, and God seems remote and unrelated to our activity.  Both of these two extremes, however, miss the heart of the Sabbath. Biblical Sabbath-keeping is an act of trust, a recognition that we can cease our labors for one day a week and the world will not come crashing down around us. It is a reminder that we are small and limited, but God is infinitely big. Keeping Sabbath is a way to affirm that our lives depend not on our own efforts and strivings but rather on God’s grace and care.  And so, freeing us from the burden of devoting all our time to getting ahead, Sabbath makes space for us to notice and reflect on instances of God’s grace in our lives and in our world. Sabbath also calls us to celebrate this divine grace-through worship and prayer and through play and enjoyment of God’s creation. Just as God crowned six days’ work of creation by looking around and exclaiming “How very good!” so we, too, need time to revel in what God is doing for us and through us.                Pastor Paul

 

A Guided Sabbath

By Sarah MacDonald & Jay Sivits:

Eugene Peterson has described Sabbath-keeping as woven from two essential threads: praying, “the action by which we attend to God,” and playing, “the action by which we explore our humanity.” Marva Dawn, in her book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, uses four words to unfold the meaning of Sabbath: ceasing, resting, embracing, and feasting. Clearly, the concept of Sabbath, developed throughout the Bible and in Jewish and Christian traditions, is rich and multi-layered.

Try this experiment:

Ceasing. The first movement of the Sabbath is to turn away from our own anxious striving.  Sabbath frees us to choose rest over further activity.

Nor does it depend on the polish of our image or the cleverness of our words. Sabbath invites us to choose silence over speech. We can pause from our attempts to produce impressive words, listening instead as God reassures us, “You are my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.”

How then, today, should we practice Sabbath ceasing? We urge everyone to spend at least 15 minutes to an hour in silence and (as far as possible) solitary rest or reflection. Turn off your cell phones, computers and TVs.

you might spend some time with the reflection questions that appear at the end of this Sabbath guide. If you’re feeling tired, take a nap.  If you’d like to take a walk outside do that.

Seeing. When we take a break from work and worry, a space opens in our day. Sometimes we rush to fill this space with leisure activities that require little of us but give little in return.  Yet Sabbath calls us to choose genuine renewal over “filler,” and we are much more likely to find ourselves renewed when we engage in activities that bring us face-to-face with God’s grace. The second movement of Sabbath, then, is to open our eyes and our hearts and pay close attention to how we’re seeing God at work.

And there’s so much to pay attention to, beginning with our own lives.  Ask yourself, “Where and how has God been at work in the events of my life?” Take time to remember.

Sabbath celebration comes in many forms. Your celebration might take the form of play-of engaging in physical or social recreation. It might take the form of artistic creation;

Ideas for how to use  Sabbath time:

Use the following reflection questions to guide you in a time of meditation and/or journaling.

Keep an hour (or more) of silence. Reflect on how you’ve recently heard God speak to you.

Take an unhurried, attentive walk outside.

Take a nap.

Read a nourishing book.

Exercise or go swimming, and rejoice over how good it feels to have a body.

Memorize a brief Scripture passage.

Write a psalm of thankfulness to God.  Write a note of encouragement and appreciation to a friend.

Ceasing

1. In some Jewish families, it is customary to have a Sabbath box to hold items not needed on the Sabbath, such as car keys or wallets. Someone stands at the entrance of the house, holding the box, and as people come in for the start of Sabbath observance, they place in the box whatever items they know shouldn’t accompany them into the sacred space.

You might find it helpful to imagine your own “Sabbath box.” What preoccupations or fears or undone work do you need to leave behind as you enter the sacred space of this Sabbath? Visualize placing all these things into a box. You might then want to visualize handing this box to Jesus to hold for you while you are on Sabbath retreat.

2. Spend some time meditating on Matthew 11:28-30.

What heavy burdens are you or have you been carrying?

What kind(s) of rest do you long for?

Ask Jesus to give you such rest during your Sabbath today.

Seeing

1. In Deut. 5:12-15, the stated reason for the command to “Observe the Sabbath day” is that God brought the Israelites out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt, and so the Sabbath is to be a day of freedom for everyone-whatever one’s social status. In the gospels, we see Jesus pick up on this theme of freedom, particularly as he performs many healings on the Sabbath.

Read the story of one such healing in Luke 13:10-17. Now reread the story, imagining yourself in the shoes of one of the characters.

What do you see and hear as the story unfolds? What surprises you?

What emotions do you feel? How do you want to respond to Jesus?

2. Take some time now to reflect on your own life.

What has been going on recently in your journey with God? In your relationships with others? In your work?

What insights, experiences, or Scriptures have become channels for God’s love and grace to you?

Are there areas in your life that you need to bring to Jesus for his healing touch?

Celebrating

Read Psalm 92, which is titled “A Song for the Sabbath Day,” and notice how it calls us into rejoicing.

What reasons do you have for giving thanks to the Lord? How have you been experiencing and witnessing God’s steadfast love and faithfulness?

Compose a prayer or psalm to express your thanksgiving and joy to God. Include specific examples of what God has done for you, and try to create imagery that captures your feelings. Pray your psalm to God; if you’re alone, read (or sing) it aloud.

Is there someone with whom you can share your psalm and so multiply praise to the Lord?

These are just a few ideas, so get busy and rest.

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