And I gave them my Sabbath days of rest as a sign between them and me. It was to remind them that I am the Lord, who had set them apart to be holy. –Ezekiel 20:12
Speaking of set apart, that’s exactly what last night felt like to me—a night set apart; a place set apart. From the opening prayer for our world to the closing benediction, we were aware of God’s presence in a unique, palpable way. News of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut rattled us and tempted us to fear. But then as we joined our voices with the soulful, beauty of The Brilliance, we remembered what is true and a peace settled over and among us.
Jason Feffer opened our eyes to new ways of seeing and keeping the Sabbath (the only one of the ten commandments Christians brag about breaking). He began by reminding us of something we already know but regularly ignore—we all have rhythm. God built a rhythm into every element of the created world. If we look, we can see that we are part of these rhythms. And more specifically, the rhythm Jason wanted us to grasp last night was the rhythm of work and rest, the rhythm laid out in the creation story of Genesis 1 and 2. The most compelling part of this teaching for me was the idea that keeping Sabbath is not a weekly practice, but a daily practice. For three days, we look forward to Sabbath. On one day, we welcome the Sabbath. Then for three days, we remember the Sabbath.
Aligning with this rhythm requires intentionality, of course, and Jason gave us some helpful guidelines to consider as we dip our toe into the practice of Sabbath. He reminded us first and foremost that Sabbath is a balance between resting and engaging. Just resting can lead to legalism. Just engaging can lead to meaningless busyness. Here are his suggestions on some ways to balance the two:
- Rest from productivity (anything that you might put on a to-do list any other day of the week). For me, this is responding to emails.
- Rest from busyness (anything that tends to create hurry or rushing). For me, this is grocery shopping and errand running.
- Rest from control (anything that incites a need or desire to control your environment, relationships, or image). For me, this is Facebook and other social media.
- Engage in joyful activities (activities that bring you delight and laughter). For me, this is going to the bookstore and the movies with my daughter.
- Engage in joyful connection with God (spiritual disciplines that you wish you had more time for during the week and spiritual pathways that usher you into God’s presence). For me, this is wandering around outside, breathing deeply, and noticing the details of creation.
(You can listen to Jason’s full message on our podcast or here below and access more resources on his website.)
This week our Kingdom Practice is to practice Sabbath. Pick one day in the coming week and set it apart. If it’s helpful, use the handout Jason gave us last night to reflect on the kinds of activities you feel God calling you to refrain from and those he is calling you to engage in so you experience his eternal, loving, centering rhythms of grace.
May God grant you the grace you need to align every breath, moment, day, week and season to His eternal rhythms.