Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rhythms of Rest

Today turned out to be a little crazy for me at church. My turn at the coffee bar and nothing went smoothly. Overflowing teapot. Coffee mysteriously not brewing. Curdled creamer. A meal being prepared in the kitchen so that I got in their way.

I came home feeling I had not really worshipped. God was there, but I wasn't.

After lunch, I reached for a little book on my bookshelf: Sabbath Keeping by Lynne M. Baab. She challenges the reader to review the purposes of a true sabbath. Here are some quotes I underlined when I read the book:

Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work.
Exodus 20:8-10

So, that's pretty clear. The passage goes on to say that God rested after creating for 6 days; so should we.

The author's family lived for a time in Israel. There, Sabbath is "kept" in the strictest of Jewish tradition: the work week comes to a grinding halt at sundown on Friday. Families worship, eat, visit, rest. I myself experienced this on a month-long trip to Israel in 1980 and it was startling and refreshing. Back to the book:

If we refuse to rest until we are finished, we will never rest until we die. Sabbath dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from the need to be finished.

We need to dethrone the quintessentially American belief that more time equals more productivity. We say, 'I don't have enough time to get it all done.' Life is not about filling every moment. Life is about embracing and receiving God's gifts. God may want us to be inefficient sometimes in order for us to receive his gifts more fully.

and this, perhaps my favorite . . .

We are human beings, yet we live as if we were "human doings." We move through our days as if what we do mattered more than who we are.

I've been guilty, guilty of filling every moment with tasks, obssessed with my to-do list. That's when I creep dangerously close to finding my value in what I do, not who I am.

How about you?


D&JHaller said...

Barb, I struggled with this in college, Sundays were always filled with homework assignments and sleep. There was little time for true worship...and having chapel three days a week made it seem unnecessary...

Sometimes a Sabbath may not come on the actual 6th day....

barb said...

Yes....the author of the book made that exact point. But, sabbath isn't just about worship...stepping back from the other 6 days is important, too.