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.

Comments

  1. Sabbath- a day and a way….

  2. Terry Wilson says:

    SABBATH FISHING
    Fishing without bait… is Sabbath.
    Anchored safe upon His gentle waters.
    Harboured away from the storms of life,
    Rocking gently in the glow of His sun… and His Son.
    Fishing for naught.. but His peace to be caught.
    Then when that fishing day of rest is done,
    Begins the fishing in the name of the Son.
    Terry
    “…. and the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding,
    will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”

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