Monday, June 26, 2017

May the Peace of the Sabbath Be with You

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.                                                                       Genesis 2:1-3

On the Sabbath day, Jesus went to the Synagogue, 
as he always did.                                                                Luke 4:16

This past Sunday during the Children’s Moment I talked with the kids about Sabbath and summer. When I asked if anyone knew why there was a Sabbath, Evan was quick to answer, “Because in Genesis God rested on the seventh day.”

Exactly right!
Someone once asked a rabbi, “Why did God give us this mighty poem of Creation? The Rabbi answered, “To teach us to rest on the Sabbath.” 

Jesus kept the Sabbath, as did his disciples. 

Even on that darkest of days, on the day after the crucifixion, they kept the Sabbath. Keeping Sabbath is at the center of our spiritual practice.

One of the most memorable experiences of my life was observing Sabbath in Jerusalem. With some rabbi friends I went to three different synagogues (Friday evening, Saturday morning, and Saturday evening). The Saturday evening service, at the close of Shabbat, was at a tiny ultra-orthodox Synagogue which seemed to have been transported, unchanged, from eighteenth century Eastern Europe.  We had Shabbat dinner at the elegant King David Hotel. And throughout the day there was fellowship and conversation.

The most significant part of the experience was the sense of peace I felt. That feeling is brought back in the traditional Sabbath greeting, "Shabbat Shalom." It means, "Sabbath peace." It is a short way of saying, "the peace of the Sabbath be with you." 

The refreshing gift of Shabbat is not that work is forbidden, but that rest is permitted. For one day, we are reminded that life does not depend on us; that we can trust God; that we do not have to be busy every moment; that God provides.

At its best, summer in New England is a kind of Shabbat. My prayer for you this summer is that you will have a sense of Shabbat. Resist the temptation to turn leisure into work. Just say "no" to the cultural pressure to fill the summer with so many fun activities that it feels like a part time job.

In the summer, at the United Methodist Church in East Greenwich we make a special effort to create a time of refreshment and renewal in our worship services. We will have childcare for infants and toddlers, and our “one room Sunday School” for older children. And summer, with its more informal atmosphere, is a wonderful time for children to attend worship with their parents and learn what it’s like to experience the whole service.

Thank you for reading. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome. Please feel free to share on social media as you wish. 

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