On Faith: Take a good rest while you canAccording to Exodus, every seventh day we are supposed to take a day of rest.
By: The Rev. Lawrence Lee, United Church of Two Harbors, Lake County News Chronicle
According to Exodus, every seventh day we are supposed to take a day of rest. Every seven years we are supposed to let our fields go fallow to let the wild things grow and be nourished. As you read this I have just started a sabbatical where I’m stepping away from my duties at United Church for three months of rest, reflection, and letting my fields go fallow. I think this will be a great challenge, actually, to disconnect.
In this world of instant communication we are tied to our “busy-ness” by so many tethers. My smartphone, email, Facebook, Foursquare, and other social networking and technologies makes it easy to stay in touch, but hard to be alone.
In Psalm 46 it says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Yeah, good luck with that. We create little space in our lives to slow down. The idea of “keeping the sabbath holy” is not really observed in our society bent on providing 24/7/365 service. We like to be able to get things when we want them. That appetite for service means we can go to our grocery stores in the middle of the night and get strawberries even when they are out of season. There is no rest for ourselves, for those who serve us, or for the earth.
So I see this sabbatical as a kind of countercultural act, a deliberate slowing down and refocusing. It’s a chance to observe, ponder, and be still.
Some of you might be saying, “Well, that’s nice for you. Wish I could do that.” But the fact of the matter is, you can. Well, maybe your employment doesn’t support an extended sabbatical program, and I do thank my congregation and the Presbyterian and United Methodist denominations for making sabbaticals a priority for their pastors, but we can create sabbath time in our own lives. We can carve out hours and days here and there to make space to slow down and listen. We can create sacred space within our homes and within our churches and lives. We can shut off the smart phones, power down the computer, turn off the television, and be attentive to the stirrings of the divine in our midst.
God gave us sabbath as a gift. Jesus said that the sabbath was made for us, and not the other way around.
So I invite you to observe the sabbath, and keep it holy.
Blessings to you all.
The Rev. Lawrence Lee has served at United Church for seven years and will be on sabbatical from the middle of August until the middle of November.