May 13, 2020 § Leave a comment
“[Sabbath] is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods.”
Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance
If this moment we find ourselves in has done anything, it has forced us to consider who we are in light of great uncertainty. Economic instability and job security are heavy on hearts and minds. High School and College Seniors wonder if the next level awaits them, and what it will look like when they get there. Their inability to walk the aisle is symbolic of how our world has come to a stop of sorts. Weddings have been put on hold. Funerals are limited to small graveside gatherings.
One of the byproducts of this moment is work from home. For those of us who are accustomed to driving to the office, it is an adjustment. Our dining room table has become my office desk. Katherine is teaching elementary music at her keyboard in our basement. Zoom is family (who else wishes they had stock in this company?!)
With others who have observed the same, we have found that we are working more, not less.
For this, God has mandated Sabbath, or rest.
Since this isn’t an exhaustive theological treatise, suffice it to say that God has built rest into the ecosystem of human well-being. We cannot be fully human if we cannot stop and lay aside agendas that dominate our minds and emotions at the expense of our reliance on God, our true Source of all care.
I have to confess that this is perhaps the most difficult thing for me to do. The work is always there: deadlines, sermons, studies, teaching, meetings, conferences, counseling. The rhythm of work, rest and recreation has been wrecked in my universe. The temptation is to think that rest is optional, but Jesus says otherwise.
Interestingly, the New Testament reveals Sabbath as something we enter into, as much as what we do. And it begins with Jesus who invites us to himself: “Come unto me… and I will give you rest…” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Rest and worship are radical acts of faith, in which we acknowledge, as individuals and in community, that we are more than the sum total of our stuff, our failures, our ambitions, and our experiences, and that true value and care, are found in our Creator, who made all that is… and then rested, and then made us His.
Sabbath is the reminder of what fear constantly attempts to make me forget – and always at the expense of those I love most.
Throughout the narrative of God’s people, the seventh day, the seventh year, the Year of Jubilee – all are intended to aim towards understanding that in Jesus the ‘It is good’ of creation, and the ‘It is finished’ of the Cross converge in him.
In Jesus, the work is completed, the debt is paid, and true rest has begun, until fully realized when he makes all things new.
Rest assured friends, this is our good news…
grace & peace.
September 14, 2013 § 4 Comments
“Every night, friends. You have done what you could. Let it go. “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson (via Fred Harrell)
This has been a crazy week in the life of our church Staff. In addition to preparations for worship, tomorrow evening we will share some vision with our church community. We have been in a focused planning mode for weeks, writing, talking, sharing, editing, revising, videoing and praying. So it was good to sneak away with Katherine to a movie last night. The movie was okay, but the company was fantastic.
It would be fair to say that on a practical level I don’t believe Emerson. On any given day my desk is cluttered with books, scriptures, papers, notes, letters, cups, pens, markers, letter openers, pictures, and lots, that is, tons – we’re talking piles and piles of things to do. Maybe that desk is reflective of my head and life, kind of in the way we guys assume it is for women and their purses (but why go there?!).
This morning as I left my office for Starbucks, I reflected on this, and the conclusions were like those personality tests where you feel great when you see your good qualities, and then turn to despair over the negative results. While I have the capacity to get a lot done in a day, there are darker angels that shape my profile, and one of them has to do with an unwillingness to stop.
I don’t want to get too deep here, but there seems to be something terribly idolatrous about an unwillingness to let go of the day. In one sense, we are always unfinished, so to hold on is to galvanize a moment God intended to pass, in taking us to the next. The cost can be immense, and the joy we are intended to experience each new day – with those we love, and even within ourselves, is often squandered in restlessness.
The alternative is to flee to Jesus – to actually stop and believe that His invitation to come to Him with our weariness (Matthew 11:28-30) will relieve us of the impossible burden of finding our value in work, and the other unfinished realities of our lives.
Friends, this is good news we can rest in…