Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.(Matthew 11:28-29)
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains-- where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you-- the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.(1 Thess. 16b-18)
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.(1 Tim. 2:1-4) _________________________________________
Let’s observe a sabbath of sorts today. Starting from when you read this.
Let’s observe this sabbath by sitting and being still, for whatever length of time is possible and practical (which is almost certainly longer than you think). In our stillness let us notice that God is not still. God is at work doing what only God can do. In our sitting let us do what we can do; let us pray.
The Jewish sabbath begins Friday at sundown and lasts until sundown on Saturday. Today is the day of waiting and resting, of recovering from and reflecting upon last week, of preparing for and praying for the days ahead.
We (i.e., most contemporary, American mainline Christians) snub keeping the sabbath. In practice, we relegate “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,” to the same category as those long lists of obscure temple rites in the book of Leviticus.
We (i.e., nearly every Christian and Jew) have decided over the centuries, for thousands of reasons, that we needn’t observe every jot and tittle of the Levitical law. We have not reached the same consensus re. The Big Ten (not the Midwest college football conference), in which “Remember the Sabbath,” stands in the conspicuous #4 position.
Today, let us simply notice where we are, wherever that is, and notice that God is directly, intentionally, personally, pointedly present. Notice that God joins us, joins us as we set aside some specific time in a specific place – we sanctify, we declare to be holy, a time and a place for remembering and reclaiming who we are and whose we are and what we are to do about it.
The following is a poem, not quite the sort of poem that reconvinces some folks that poetry is ‘not for them.’ Maybe close, though. Definitely a poem that requires a few readings to allow it to unfold, to land. I offer it for its intrinsic value and relevance, and also because digesting it requires an almost mechanical throttling down, necessitates grinding our internal gears, and insists we deaccelerate to a sabbath limit of 15 MPH.
Wendell Berry wrote from his country home in New England in 1988:
Always in the distance the sound of cars is passing on the road, that simplest form going only two ways, both ways away. And I have been there in that going.
But now I rest and am apart, a part of the form of the woods always arriving from all directions home, this cell of wild sound, the hush of the trees, singers hidden among the leaves –
a form whose history is old, needful, unknown, and bight as the history of the stars that tremble in the sky at night like trees of a great tree.This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013. Counterpoint, Berkeley. 2013.
for whatever has your attention right this moment, so that you know God joins you in your concerns/interests, and so that you can set them aside and pray for other things as well
for the Holy Spirit to bring you comfort and assurance in the middle of these days, in the middle of the particular pains of your life and the lives of those you love
for the ability to be fully present in your life and in the world as it is today, and at the same time to be fully present in the transcendent, earthy realities of Holy Week
for yourself and your loved ones
for our church, our community, and our world, particularly in light of the pandemic
Thank God for meeting you, for the opportunity to sit, read, and pray, and pray for an awareness of God's presence through the day
Northminster Presbyterian Church 400 Rancheria Road | Diamond Bar, CA 91765 | PH: (909) 861-4715