“Everything belongs and everything can be received.
I have a confession to make.
I got a little two wrapped up in the news this week and now I'm grumpy. To be honest, this happens more often than I like to admit. It's not even the news itself (whether its good or bad) that makes me grumpy. It's usually my inner dialogue about who's right and who's wrong and how I wish everyone would just see the world the same way I do. I stress myself out over the potential for conflict and my own need to be right.
In his book, Everything Belongs, Father Richard Rohr reminds us that one of the best ways to deepen your relationship with God is to accept things as they are, both outside and within yourself. Not to fight them, but to accept them.
I think most of us struggle to accept things as they are. We fight against our own imperfections. We battle our insecurities. We rage against those who disagree with us. We struggle to make the world into what we want it to be.
And in the process, we tie our souls up in knots and sometimes lose our grip on "the peace that passes understanding." In times like this, when I've gotten a little too caught up in the fight, I've found the prayer below (written by another great Catholic, the late Father Thomas Keating) a helpful reminder of God's sovereignty and peace. I pray it may be the same for you.
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it's for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God's action within. Amen
“What makes a Sabbath a biblical Sabbath is that it is ‘holy to the lord.’
The most significant difference between a biblical Sabbath and a traditional “day off” is the focus on God. This doesn’t mean that we have to spend the entire day praying or studying the Bible, but it does invite us to be intentional about contemplating the love and glory of God.
Poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins once wrote, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”
Psalm 19 puts it this way:
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.”
(Psalms 19:1–6 NIV)
Tomorrow we officially end our “Sanctuary Sabbath Month.” In some ways, that means rhythms will return to some degree of normalcy. But my hope is that we take what we have learned and experienced about Sabbath this month and incorporate it into our weekly schedules for the rest of the year.
“Unless one learns how to relish the taste of Sabbath while still in this world, unless one is initiated in the appreciation of eternal life, one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come…. The essence of the world to come is Sabbath eternal, and the seventh day in time is an example of eternity.”
Hebrews 4:9-11 says:
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest...” (NIV11)
The idea of Sabbath is introduced in Genesis 2 and the theme continues to be address throughout the Scriptures, all the way to Revelation. "Honoring the Sabbath" is included as one of the Ten Commandments, alongside worshiping God alone and not murdering people. But few Christians make the practice of Sabbath (a 24 hour period of rest and worship) a key part of their lives.
The truth of Rabbi Heschel’s statement above is important for us to contemplate. Sabbath is not merely about taking a day off so that we don’t get too tired. It’s about practicing for eternity. The author of Hebrews' description of “a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” makes it clear that our practice of Sabbath today is directly connected to our eternal practice of Sabbath-rest in the next life. If we don't learn how to enjoy resting in this life, we may have difficulty resting in the next one.
In his book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, author and pastor Peter Scazzero describes four foundational characteristics of a healthy and biblical Sabbath:
In August’s weekly emails/blog posts, we’ll be exploring each of these four Sabbath practices in turn and looking at how we might grow in our practice of Sabbath, both individually and corporately.
I hope that you’ll take some time this month to slow down, to stop working, to rest, to delight, and to contemplate God. Sabbath is a gift that God has given to us, and we invariably suffer when we reject the gift. When we practice Sabbath, we rejoice in the reality that in Jesus Christ, eternity has entered our present experience.