At our 10.30am Wednesday morning communions in Lent, we are exploring the idea of Sabbath, using many ideas from a 2005 Lent Course called Life Balance by Robert Warren and Sue Mayfield.
God of eternity, teach us to pause.
God of creation, teach us to wonder.
God of Sabbath, teach us to rest.
God of delight, teach us to play.
God of the poor, teach us to share in your work of liberation.
God of love, fill our lives with your perfect peace.
1 of 5 — Time to Pause
Exodus 20:8-11 and Mark 1:29-38
2 of 5 — Time to Celebrate
Genesis 1:1-2:3 and Philippians 4:4-8
3 of 5 — Time to Rest
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 and Matthew 11:28-12:8
4 of 5 — Time to Play
Isaiah 11:6-9 and Matthew 18:1-5
5 of 5 — Time to Liberate
Leviticus 25:1-12 and Luke 13:10-17
What is Sabbath anyway?
A large pot had been in the possession of a family for more time than they could remember. It had served a number of purposes during that time and was currently being used as an umbrella stand in the hall. When a TV Road Show was in the area doing valuations, one of the children persuaded the parents – just for a bit of fun – to take the pot along. It proved to be a very rare vase, worth a small fortune. The Sabbath is rather like that. We all have it, it has been around for ages, we have put it to all sorts of uses, but most of us have only the haziest idea what it was meant for. And we do not realize what a treasure it is!
Sabbath is a gift more than a demand. It is the gift of a break from the routines of life and a means of refreshing us. For Jews, celebrating Sabbath from sunset to sunset, Sabbath begins with the gifts of food and sleep. For Christians, celebrating Sabbath on the first day of the week, Sabbath is not so much the gift of rest at the end of a hard week’s work, as a reminder (at the start of a new week) that the whole of life is sustained by God’s grace and generosity.
Sabbath is a door opening up a new dimension – taking us beyond the necessary, the urgent and the everyday. Sabbath is not so much a day for not doing things (despite misconceptions reinforced by both Pharisees and Victorians!) but rather a day for doing the really important things: giving and receiving rather than buying and selling; enjoying the goodness and reality of God’s presence and the beauty of his world. Sabbath is about entering into the fullness of life Christ promised here on earth as a foretaste of the richness of heavenly life.
Sabbath is an attitude not just a day. Sabbath invites us to take its principles of resting, thanksgiving, justice and generosity into the whole of life – reducing the stress and rush and enlarging our vision.
Sabbath is a surprise! The story
of Creation in the opening verses of Genesis has a fascinating twist at the
end. For seven days God creates spaces, habitats and living creatures. On the
last day God rests, and makes holy, Sabbath time. This has striking relevance
for us in a society that has been described as ‘cash rich, time poor’. We talk
of ‘finding time’, ‘spending time’, ‘catching up’, ‘chasing our tails’. What we
do not talk about is receiving time as gift or valuing it as holy