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Posts Tagged ‘sabbath’

Recently I read a quote by Virginia Woolfe:

“There is a virgin forest in each; a snowfield where even the print of birds’ feet is unknown.” Virginia Woolfe

I think it might be the introvert’s version of heaven. A solitary place within us, where no one has even left footprints. A place of personal seclusion, rest from all noise, interruption from our quiet, but deep thoughts. In a sense,

it is Sabbath.

Sabbath, the day to remember and keep holy. The day orchestrated by God, for us, which he, himself participated in, after the creation of the world and all in it.

In Hebrew (the language of the Genesis Sabbath) the word used for rest is menuha, but it does not refer to the rest that is a nap … menuha refers to celebration, delight.

In my mind, what God meant when he included Sabbath into our lives, was like a snow day. A day when you wake up, ready to do the routines of life and work, but it’s snowing wildly and all the regular plans of the day get cancelled and a sense of freedom and delight fill your soul.

It is a snowfield where even the print of birds’ feet is unknown

Sabbath is not just a snow day, but a mindset. It is taking delight in the midst of work of the snow … shovelling, scraping, bundling up with a heart celebrating in the creation, the Creator, while taking pleasure in the work that we have to do.

Sabbath is a mindset of celebration and delight, in the midst of the work as well as in the rare afternoon nap … snow not mandatory … but sooooo lovely.

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As Sunday dawns so does Sabbath … a day of rest, renewal. In our North American culture, in this time, Sunday is no different from any other day of the week. Yet our bodies, out minds, our spirits and souls cry out for all that Sabbath can and should be … rest, renewal.

However one might interpret the actual turn of events, Genesis says that:

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2-3)

God, the Creator of the heavens and Earth, rested from his work.

I was speaking to my mom, a few days ago, about our recent move to a new home. I was tired, bone tired. We had been unpacking and organizing for six days straight (after packing for weeks prior). My mom, in mom fashion, reminded me that it’s okay, even good, to just sit and relax and enjoy our new place. I balked that there was too much to be done, and that I couldn’t possibly enjoy anything until we were unpacked.

Then, while chatting with one of our kids, I found myself offering the same advice … that it’s okay, even good, to just sit and relax …

When advice is good and beneficial, it can even come from those of us who do not practise what we preach. It is as though our souls know what is best, even if we are deaf and blind to it’s truth in our practise.

In reading Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Genesis passage about God resting, I found this:

“The eternal God, though infinitely happy in the enjoyment of himself, yet took a satisfaction in the work of his own hands. He did not rest, as one weary, but as one well-pleased with the instances of his own goodness and the manifestations of his own glory.”

Sabbath is not limited to a certain day, but we all need a day of rest in our seven days. It does not have to be about an afternoon nap, it can simply be taking satisfaction in what we have accomplished, created in the six days prior, giving appreciation and homage to work well done.

If we were to regularly take time each week to honour what we have been part of, what we have worked to accomplish, what we have created, perhaps we would experience less stress, anxiety and depression.

Perhaps there is something to this day of rest.

 

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*A re-post from a year and a bit ago, and a reminder of the barrenness of a busy life, as the calendar begins to fill.

June + kids + church + school = busy … and I cannot wait to do a little bit of subtraction!

I have been longing for the end, counting down to the end, all the while it seems as though there are stretches of days when every time I open my email inbox there is another ‘end of year’ event to be attended.

Don’t get me wrong … I love celebrating year ends, graduations, retirements, partings and weddings! They are each, on their own, most delightful events to be invited to, to witness, to attend. It is when they come one after another, with no pause for refreshment, for refueling, that they begin to extinguish the candle of my days, making it too dim to see the light of blessing that each one is.

I yearn for refreshment … the kind that comes from being home from waking until sleeping (maybe even with a little sleeping in between), the kind that comes from not one phone ring, the kind that comes from just us five being home, with no knocks at the door, no invasions of anyone or anything from the ‘outside world’ … except maybe a parcel delivery … and not one with an invoice to be paid!

Socrates was right, the busy life can be barren … lifeless, empty. It can be life-sapping rather than life-giving. It can leave us with little to give.

We need Sabbath rest!

But, do we make that happen? Or do we constantly add more to fill our days (and nights), rather than make time to rec-r-ate?

In Psalm 39:6 we are given the reminder that, “all our busy rushing ends in nothing.”

Is there a barrenness to your busy schedule? Do you, like me, get to a point where the calendar is so full, you refuse to add any more to the daily boxes?

Barren means not reproducing, not productive, it is a ‘lack of’ …

Busy means active, occupied, it is ‘full of’ …

How can we be both busy and barren? How can we be both full of and have a lack of at the same time?

God, in His process of creation, chose rest a feature of the seven day week. One-seventh of life is intended for rest. And this is not just Old Testament theology, because in Mark 6:31, Jesus reminds us that busy needs to be balanced by rest, when he said to his disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

My you and I find the will to omit something from our calendars this week, and go to a deserted place, and rest a while … and become, once again ‘full of.’

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Rest …

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing;
so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy,

because on it he rested from all the work of creating.”
Genesis 2:2-3

What is rest? And, specifically, what is Sabbath rest? Did God choose a day of rest because he was tired from creating the world? Is a Sabbath rest still a part of the New Covenant?

When God had finished creating the world, and all in it, He set aside a day in which “he rested.” Why did He rest? Was God fatigued?

Isaiah (40:28) would indicate that is not so; “the Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired.”

So if God was not tired, rest, in this passage has a different meaning that we might first think. The Hebrew word used actually means to cease, to stop doing, to complete. This makes far more sense! Creator God had just finished the creation of the world and all in, under and on it. The world, as we know it, was completed, God had no more to add to it, it was done, and he ceased, rested.

After a month of school each weekday, laundry and taxi-driving kids each Saturday, church and football each Sunday, today is a day of rest for me. There is nothing that I have to do, there is no place that I have to go. It is a day of no expectations! It is a day full of possibilities! I could take my beast for a walk on the trail. I could sit and write a weeks worth of blog posts, I could read from the book that has been feeding my soul lately, I could play a game with the kids, I could make cookies, I could, I could, I could.

I struggle with understanding Sabbath rest. In the Christian life in which I live, the Sabbath is Sunday, a day to do something different, focus on God, spend time in His word, worship with other believers. But, I have to say, it is often void of rest; my definition (a day of no expectations), or the one above from Genesis (to cease). Since hubby works on the Sabbath, it is a day of many expectations, and because of my high energy in starting projects … and low energy in completing them, there is rarely a ceasing or completing.

In the New Testament (Matthew 11:28-30), Jesus speaks of rest, “come to me all who labor and are burdened and I will find rest for you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am humble and gentle of spirit, you will find peace for your heart. For my yoke is pleasant and light is my burden.”

Although Jesus is not speaking of Sabbath rest directly, I think there could be a hint of it in his promise. He is speaking of the rest that he can provide if we are under the yoke that binds us together. The yoke binds us to him, allowing for us to be connected to him, dependent on his leading (the meaning of rest in this passage).

Maybe, if we allow ourselves to be yoked to Jesus, the rest that we so desire will be available to us … all week long.

 

 

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