Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World

Remember the Sabbath (Seminar)

July 26, 2020 Season 4 Episode 8
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Remember the Sabbath (Seminar)
Chapters
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Remember the Sabbath (Seminar)
Jul 26, 2020 Season 4 Episode 8

God created sabbath to provide opportunities in time for us to rest and reconnect with God and each other.

Based on Exodus 20:8-11. Originally presented July 26, 2020 at St Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church. 

Show Notes Transcript

God created sabbath to provide opportunities in time for us to rest and reconnect with God and each other.

Based on Exodus 20:8-11. Originally presented July 26, 2020 at St Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church. 

God created sabbath to provide opportunities in time for us to rest and reconnect with God and each other.

It has been no secret that I have been presenting spiritual practices in the order in which I came to understand them as a reformed theologian and pastor. These last two sermons reflect the difficulty I have had with these last two spiritual practices. Today’s spiritual practice, sabbath, has been a difficult one for me. As you know, I was raised Seventh-Day Adventist. Which meant that from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday was set aside for worship and connecting with God who created all. I want there to be NO misunderstanding here. I have no issues with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church or her members. I will tell you, however, that when I joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Faith tradition, I left the sabbath behind. A lot of you know, that when I opted to intern as a chaplain as part of my pastoral care certificate at Brite divinity school, I went to work at a Seventh-Day Adventist hospital in South Ft. Worth. Even though I had been out of the Adventist church for almost a decade I interned at Huguley Hospital on purpose. It was my desire to not only learn how to be a good chaplain and pastor, but it was also my desire to come to grips with what to do with this Seventh-Day Adventist faith since that I am now Cumberland Presbyterian.

I’m here to tell you, going through a Certified Pastoral Education experience was the hardest thing I have ever done. I know there is someone who is probably watching online who is a chaplain at Cooks Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, who will tell you, I am speaking the truth! Adding the layer of working for a denomination that I no longer associated with was even more complex. Having admitted how difficult CPE was for me, I would not trade that experience in for the world! One day my CPE supervisor sat me down and asked me… “Dave, why are you running away from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church?” I quickly informed him that I was not running from anything, and, as any good CPE supervisor would do, he disagreed. As my summer term progressed, I came to the realization that I had indeed been running from the faith of my youth. My CPE supervisor told me that The Seventh-Day Adventist, church… the church of my youth is serving as the foundation upon which all my theology is built on. To take a jack hammer to that foundation would destroy all the theology I had built upon it. 

Needless to say, I have returned to an understanding of sabbath as a spiritual practice. God created sabbath to provide opportunities in time for us to rest and reconnect with God and each other. Based on my foundation and the theology I have built upon it, let’s unpack what that looks like. The Sabbath was given to the Hebrew people as a symbol of God’s covenant with God’s people. Later, almost immediately after the resurrection, biblical scholars have discovered compelling evidence that the Jewish people, who believed in Jesus as Messiah would worship in the synagogues on the seventh day of the week and on the first day of the week they would wake up early, before the sunrise and celebrate Easter every single Sunday… complete with a huge meal and a celebration of the eucharist.

Today, that all seems to have been forgotten… and in reality, it’s really difficult for us in today’s society to take two days off for a sabbath, let alone a couple hours on Sunday morning to attend church. Macie and I were talking last week about this and she said that she has noticed one good thing to come from this pandemic… People are staying home more. We are slowing down and spending more time with family. More and more people are discovering that we CAN work from home, and work less hours… we have that technology! Macie and I also talked about what life is going to look like on the other side of this pandemic. Are we going to go back to our hectic lives? Or will our lifestyles be forever changed where the focus is more on down time and spending quality time with family? God created sabbath to provide opportunities in time for us to rest and reconnect with God and each other.

Scriptures tell us that we were created in the image of God. Have you ever wondered what that means? God is spirit and has no physical body. Jesus, God’s Son, is God in flesh… He came to this earth to show us the love of the Father. I believe that the understanding of being created in God’s image helps us understand sabbath better. Scripture tells us, that when God finished creating the heavens and the earth, God rested. I do not believe that God rested because God was tired. Perhaps we can understand this rest from a musical standpoint. You may or may not know this but I can read music. PLEASE, don’t tell the choir director! There are symbols throughout and especially at the end of every musical score called a rest… The rest symbol at the end means you have completed the musical number and it is now time to rest. An artist will rest by putting brushes down and standing back to admire the finished product… at least that’s what I do when I am finished with my paint by number. 

We also know that it is in God’s nature to be in relationship with us… God’s creation. God said, it is not good that man should be alone. Scripture tells us that God would come and visit the first created humans in the Garden, in the cool of the day. As I read the gospels, Jesus would spend all night in prayer, talking with his father. We need to stay in communication with our creator! Communion with God is vital to our lives and to our physical, spiritual and emotional health. Same thing with sabbath. Observing Sabbath rest is also vital to our lives and to our physical, spiritual and emotional health. 

God created sabbath to provide opportunities in time for us to rest and reconnect with God and each other. I am grateful that the pastoral search committee asked me about sabbath early on in my interview process. I was asked how I took care of myself. Let there be no mistake, I am always here for this congregation and I don’t care what day of the week it is, if you are in a crisis, I will drop everything to be with you. That said, I have chosen to take Saturdays off with a focus on rest, spending time with my family and connecting with God. 

Sabbath may be a different day for you depending on your schedule and family needs. I would encourage everyone here to practice sabbath as a spiritual practice. We are not machines! We were not created to constantly be working.  God created sabbath to provide opportunities in time for us to rest and reconnect with God and each other.  Sabbath should be a time where we take a break from our normal routines. It should be a time where the TV and cell phones and computers go off and family get together over meals and reconnects. Sabbath should be a time where we are connecting with those we love in our lives. Sabbath should be a time for family worship and grounding ourselves in God’s word.

Our journal prompt for this week is to write down some sabbath practices you and your family can implement to help you connect better with God. I see the time, I just want to share with you just two things my family did to create memorable sabbath practices. First, when the kids were young we used to welcome in the sabbath and invite the Holy Spirit into that ‘space in time’ by lighting a candle. Second, while this is not specific to sabbath… we would do this often as a bedtime ritual. However, this may help with those of you with young kids at home. Just before bed, Lucresia and I would call “Family Time” from our bed. Our kids and the little brown dog and even the cat would run into our bedroom and would jump in bed with us and we would just talk… ask about their day… learn new knock knock jokes.

What you do with the sabbath is up to you… make sure that your activities are life giving. And remember, God created sabbath to provide opportunities in time for us to rest and reconnect with God and each other, this is the rest of God.