Today is my Sabbath. A new concept for me that I am trying to honor, but one that actually goes back thousands of years. The meaning of the word centers around the idea of rest and worship- a time to renew, re-connect and restore. With our Creator, with ourselves, with our joys and passions.
This summer, I put in a request at my teaching job to reconfigure my schedule so that I would not teach on Wednesdays and Fridays. A wonderful co-teacher agreed to job share with me and lead the class on those two days. The school where I teach is awesome and flexible and the leadership there likes to think outside of the box, so they agreed to it. I now use Wednesdays to work uninterrupted at church and also for afternoon appointments and Fridays are FREE. FREE. As in “Thank God Almighty- Free at last!!!” or as in “You will know the truth- and the truth will set you FREE”.
I thought, last year, that Saturdays would work as a Sabbath, but, as it turns out, many church and community functions happen on Saturdays. Also, a lot of funerals. So Saturdays often end up busy, and the idea of Sabbath is to not be busy…..to not be busy at all.
Many people choose Sunday as a Sabbath. That is good- but not for me. When you are a working minister, on staff at a church, Sunday is not a day of rest. It is a work day. Please, do not misunderstand. It is work that I love. It is work that I cherish. It is work that I am incredibly, unabashedly thankful for. But it is work. When others are sitting and peacefully praying and enjoying the beautiful, spiritually uplifting music in the Sanctuary, I am on watch. Looking around the church. Who is missing? Is that person OK? Do they need a card or an email or a visit? How is that parishioner’s recovery progressing? How is another person handling their grief over a loved one’s passing? Who needs a comforting chat at coffee fellowship? Did I remember to finish and submit that article for the newsletter? Do I have all the supplies I need for Youth meeting tonight? Who is the new visitor in the back pew? I need to make a point to go over and invite them into coffee after service. And when I get up to read the Scripture- how do I pronounce those biblical names? And how am I going to tie the Prayer of Dedication in with the Pastor’s sermon? I could go on and on about the myriad of things running through my head on Sundays. I love it. It is my passion, and one of the things I believe I am called to do on this earth. My purpose. My joy. But it is not restful, and I also strongly believe that God calls His people to rest.
So, after my first year of official vocational ministry, I decided that God wanted me to put a day of rest on my calendar– and that it would be Friday.
So, here I am. Candles are lit. Meditative music is on. I slept as long as I wanted to. There was no alarm. A hot cup of tea sits next to me. I am still in my pajamas. There are cozy blankets and soft pillows. I am writing- which for me is very much like a prayer. The sun is streaming in my window, creating a patch of warmth on the couch and rug. I am listening to the sounds of the world moving quickly outside of my window- but today I do not have to rush around like everyone else. There might be a nap later. There will probably be a walk in this beautiful weather, when I decide to get dressed. I might eat lunch at home, I might grab a sandwich somewhere. Maybe stop in at my favorite bookstore or the library (both of which I can walk to). There will be no “have to’s” on this day. Today is a day for letting things go…..
I am new at this, and still not very good at it. I know many who practice an intentional Sabbath completely disengage from technology on this day. They TURN OFF THEIR PHONES (EGAD!!!!) They go a WHOLE 24HOURS without checking their email or social media. I’m going to have to work up to that. Definitely not ready for that yet. I have a school function to attend tonight. I have a physical therapy appointment- so the day is not completely free. I am working up to it. It is a goal. But I am able to go a few hours at a time- which I think of as good progress. We are working for progress- not perfection.
Everywhere around me I see people spinning. People who are “crazy busy”. I have been crazy busy for years. I don’t want to be that anymore. I am going to try to listen to to my friend Jesus, who tells me to bring my weary self to Him….,and that He will give me rest.
One thought on “Radical Rest”
This is restful, even reading your thoughts. Funny, what you describe as a pastor is what I know my mom did for all my growing up years and beyond–she was the one who always noticed if people had stopped coming to church, if someone was troubled, if someone was new. It’s what I’ve done myself a lot. But it made me smile, being reminded that the pastor is the one who carries that responsibility all the time. REst, dear friend…