Take time to rest on the Sabbath

When the weather turns warm (which I am almost sure it will, now that June has arrived) we like to get out and to enjoy the beauty all around us. Time camping, fishing, hiking we might well define as recreation. Time spent reconnecting with who we are as God’s own creation.

I hope and trust that you will have a good summer, and that you will find time in God’s creation, time for renewal and refreshment.
One thing that we might all want to consider, is how we might set aside sabbath time. With school out, and a little less hectic schedule for the summer, I hope for more time for recreation, I hope for a schedule that gives more time away, more time for family fun, more time for us to reconnect and be restored.

The story of creation tells us that God rested on the seventh day and we are called to set aside a day each week as a sabbath.
In an age when being busy is a status symbol and our pace becomes ever more frenetic, perhaps we can see as clearly as ever, that the sabbath command was given to God’s people as a gift. We are not created to be working every single day, we are to take time off from our work. Time to give thanks and praise, time to be renewed and restored.

I think often of a story I read years ago. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, was asked a question about going to church. His wife Melinda took their children to worship, but he did not join them. In answering why he did not, he said: “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient.” “There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”

While I might be tempted to suggest all the ways in which worship is so very rewarding and life enriching; I like the insight of the theologian who titled her book on worship; “A Royal Waste of Time.”
Perhaps sabbath time is any time we set aside our rage for efficiency, productivity and accomplishment and instead seek to live in that moment and take note of the gifts around us.

Writer and Presbyterian minister Frederick Buechner, tells a story from when he was a teacher.

On one of those short winter days, in the early evening, he entered the classroom, and noticed that the windows gave them a great view of an incredible sunset. On a whim, he flipped off the lights.
No one said a thing. All eyes were drawn to the glorious beauty shining into the room. They sat there in silence for close to 20 minutes.

It was a great class, he says, not because they did anything, but because they spent that time together, individually, and as a group, drinking in the mystery, with no agenda of that they would “do” anything with it.

Sabbath worship is not to be valued by what is accomplished in that hour. Rather, it is time for us to hear the Word of God’s great gifts of grace, to marvel at the wonder, to give thanks and praise and to unite in prayer and song. (Of course, we are sent forth from worship with a calling and with purpose, but that’s a different conversation.)

Sabbath time is a moment of stepping out of the constant rush to “spend” all our time.

A stepping away from the vision of ourselves solely as consumers. We are to take a Sabbath. A time apart, to be with God and one another. To rest. To recognize that work is meaningless without play.

It is important to have you join your congregation for worship.
A community’s worship is richer with your presence and is made poorer by your absence.

This is not intended as a guilt tripping message, but as an invitation to faithful worship that unites God’s people for the purpose of living out the habits that mark the lives of Christian people. We do not worship because of anything we might accomplish there.

We do not consider worship in terms of allocation of time resources. At the same time, more than we can know is worked in our hearts and lives when we worship.

May your summer be marked by rich times of sabbath, and in that time, may you know God’s great love for you and all the world.

Phil Wold is pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Sheridan.