Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rediscovering Sabbath

Rediscovering Sabbath

From 6:00 pm Saturday until 6:00 pm Sunday Danelle and I have determined that whenever possible we will practice a time of Sabbath. We begin on Saturday evening with a huge meal of gathered friends in our dining room that overlooks the Pisgah National Forest. For the past two weeks friends have gathered, eaten well, shared life stories, played silly games and for a few short moments released the ties that this world has upon us. On Sunday we rise, often late (after 8 am which is really late for us! LOL), eat breakfast, talk and slowly enter the day. We attend worship, spend a quiet afternoon reading, listening to the sound of the mountains or just being together. I believe that if we can keep this practice it will have a profound effect upon our souls.

Our world is fueled by adrenaline. The heartbeat of our culture is faster, louder, longer, better! We fill our ears with music from personalized players, keep our lights burning late into the night so that we can fill every moment with work and activity. Rather than relax we run from activity to activity, accelerating our heartbeat and living on an addictive adrenaline rush. This is now what God has in mind for our lives.

Exodus contains the story of the children of Israel, under than hand of the Pharaoh, forced to work day and night without ceasing. Their yoke was heavy and they cried out to God, God sent Moses (Charleton Heston if you grew up watching the 10 Commandments) to lead them out of bondage and into a Promised Land. Once they were beyond the reach of their captor, God set out guidelines for them to rule their communal lives with. Of those rules was one unique to pre-modern culture, the command to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” This command called upon God’s people to stop, to reflect, to listen for God’s voice, hear from the Torah and to force themselves to remember that they were creation serving Creator. They were not to build, construct or make anything during that twenty-four hour period. They were called to just be.

Sabbath is all but lost in our 24/7/365 world. Cell phones enable us to be reached in every corner of our lives. Laptop computers and wireless internet means that we can work from almost any coffee shop or public space. Our employers expect constant availability and think nothing of calling us late into the evening or on our rare time away from the office. What is this doing to us? I think it is killing our souls.

You can’t hear God when you are in constant motion. If your ears are always filled with sound, your mind is always cluttered with noise and you are always riding the adrenaline surge that occurs when you are constantly stimulated, you do not allow enough space for God to speak. Carving out margin is hard. I am addicted to that adrenaline rush. I like to have a multi-page “to-do list,” it makes me feel important. But I am not called to be important; I am called to be a servant. Right not it feels as though I’m called to wander around in the wilderness and see where God will lead me to go next. If I am going to hear God I have to stop and listen, I have to get off the adrenaline train and stop for a while. It has not been easy, and it is not going to be easy. Our culture pushes against Sabbath taking, but my soul cries for it. It is good to be rediscovering Sabbath.

I remain:

Consumed by the Call,

Gracious God, who created us to work and to rest, allow me to spend time remembering you by remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy. Amen

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