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.