Sabbath Rest

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    Hiking above Lake Dillon between Breckenridge and Silverthorne

    I write this pastor’s perspective amidst packing for a vacation with my kids to Silverthorne, Colorado—just outside Breckenridge. My parents have a church member at their Hot Springs church who has a 4 bedroom condo there and have encouraged my parents to round up the family for whatever time they can on this summer which holds a move for my parents from Hot Springs to Rogers. I’m so glad my parents have carved outthe time to take 2 weeks of Sabbath rest in that beautiful corner of Creation in what will be a very active summer. God’s design of time and place includes a weekly day for rest and relaxation. It is, as Genesis 1 puts it, the capstone of Creation—the crowning aspect of God’s plan that holds it together. God rested. We should also rest. Rabbi Abraham Heschel wrote in one of my favorite books, Sabbath, that “Sabbath is a cathedral in time.” I like that image. It reminds me that Sabbath requires intentionality. I hope those words might inspire you as you might be firming up plans forsummer vacations. I know many times I feel like I “need a vacation from the vacation” when I return from some big trip we have taken jam packed with traveling and fun activities for the kids. Yes, vacations at this stage of life serve another purpose of “memory making” for the kids, so sometimes that does take some real effort. But don’t forget that Jesus set the model for us in taking personal time to recharge in the midst of meeting people’s needs. “But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” (Luke 5: 15-16) The commandment to “obey the Sabbath and keep it holy” was given to a slave people who had come to define themselves by the work that they did. One purpose of the 40 year wilderness wandering after the Exodus from Egypt was to re-condition the people to understand themselves as a people set apart for a purpose. The Sabbath was and is a weekly reminder that one’s identity was not “what you did” but rather “who and whose you are.” Every line of work has the potential to become all-consuming with regard to identity and attention. When work is a vocation, it is best undergirded with intentional rest. For many, this is the weekend. For others, it is not. When it happens doesn’t matter all that much if we have the self-discipline to carve it out frequently. God made it easy on us and declared it to be every Saturday. I’d love tell you I abide by that, but I don’t. I can tell you, though, that over the next few days I’m making up for some of those missed Sabbaths (well, to a certain extent—if I had been better organized, like the Jewish people who so carefully prepare to observe the “no work on the Sabbath” commandment that they even make cooking arrangements beforehand—I might leave mycellphone behind—isn’t it strange that that idea sounds utterly ridiculous in this day and age!) That is yet another reminder that “Sabbath is a cathedral in time.” You don’t builda cathedral without a blueprint, do you? Cathedral building takes planning and foresight, and Sabbath does too. But, simple rest and relaxation is beneficial in whatever small or unplanned doses it can be afforded. God will use it. I pray the upcoming “vacation season” has real and lasting and spiritual benefit for all of you!