Dear Church Family and Community,
In the last few weeks, we have grown accustomed to words like quarantine, isolation, and “distancing.” We have bemoaned the loss of our routines. We have been reminded that our value must not be found in how busy we are, or even in what we do. This new normal has come with a series of new worries and realities. We have had to stop. We have had to be more present. In all of this, can we perhaps move on from looking at our current state as not simply a forced time away from other people and our usual routines, but also as…Sabbath?
Sabbath is a gift from God, created to be a blessing for us. God, in creating the world, established Sabbath as a day of rest, reflection, celebration, and worship. God who needs no rest, chooses Sabbath. In so doing, God models for us a practice that is life sustaining. All of us have too much to do. Too often our answer to how are you doing is… I’m very busy. All of us need Sabbath as an intentional practice. In our world so easily defined by our busyness and laundry to-do lists…God may just be calling us to Sabbath because of His love and care for us.
One of the simplest ways to understand God’s love for us is to remember that God always does what is best for us. God’s earliest followers in the Old Testament called this hesed. Jesus’ followers that emerged in the New Testament came to know this as agape. Today it most likely shows up in your Bible as mercy, lovingkindness, goodness, or simply kindness.The God we serve, the God we follow, and the God who so loves us – loves us in a way that is always for our best.
One of the most basic ways to follow God is to love as God loves. In our lives, we are called to seek God first, to love others the way God loves, and to try and gift our world God’s best. The same hesed our Father gave, is the same agape that Jesus calls us to give. What a blessing to our world – if we, the followers of Jesus, could love others how God loves them!! This may seem daunting, but we have the Helper, the Holy Spirit living inside and conforming us into the image of Jesus.
God also models this love for us, to teach and inspire us to love the same way. Jesus’ life gifts us this witness as well. What God commands, God models. What God models shows us how God wants us to live. And one of the things God models is Sabbath – by making time for rest, reflection, and celebrating what He had done. Sabbath is a chance to do the same. AND…we get light and instruction from the Holy Spirit too – how blessed are we!!
So…what if our current reality is a chance to stop answering, busy…to the question of how are you doing? What if our new normal gifts you the chance to remember that your value is not what you do, or all that you have to do? Can this be a nudge for us all, to be more present to the people around us and to what really matters? Can this current season be for us a real chance at rest and self-care? Can it be for us a chance to worship and reconnect with God in deep and meaningful ways? If this is Sabbath, what steps can we take, in all that we do now, to make it worship as well?
- We are resting and implementing self-care
- We are unplugging from busyness and reconnecting with God in deep and meaningful ways
- We are reflecting upon where we are in life and faith
- We are being creative with our gifts and open to learning new things
- We are present with each other…serving in any way we can
- We are worshipping God in all that we say and do.
Sabbath is worship. Sabbath is resting, reconnecting, reflecting, creating, serving, and learning. Sabbath is a chance to reconnect with God and each other.
For the last week or so, our family has eaten all of our meals together. We have played, danced, slept, and enjoyed time together. We have also made a point to connect with family, friends, and neighbors as best as we can. We are discovering and using our gifts to serve others, and each other. Personally, it’s been sustaining to my soul and spirit to carve out time for prayer and reflection, to reconnect with old friends, and to thank God upon remembrance of each of you.
Remember, you were not created for the Sabbath. God created the Sabbath for you. Let us be faithful to God and each other. Let us live and love like Christ. Let us trust God with what we do not know and the worries that so easily overwhelm us.
Sisters and brothers, let us embrace this sabbath for the blessing it could possibly be. God’s got us…and we gon’ be alright.
God bless you all.
Love in Christ,
Pastor Hank (Matthew 2:27-28)
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104