Sabbath Time — Trusting the Spirit
By George Martin
May 11, 2014
St. Mattthew’s Episcopal Church, Pacific Palisades, CA
Sunday Bulletin, Easter 4
(A Reflection Based on the Walter Bruggemann lectures at the Clergy Conference this past week. All five of the St. Matthew’s clergy staff attended!)
Many of us major in anxiety and fear. It even means at times feeling guilty when we’re not working very hard or seeming to make progress toward a goal. We live in a world where “certitude” rules, even though our faith is grounded in a God who values fidelity. We’re allowed to have doubts and uncertainty. That was the theme of our first session with Bruggemann.
The world tells us how to be happy by having things we purchase and own. The same world wants our attention every day. In its indirect enticing way it implies that the 4th commandment (“to keep holy the Sabbath) isn’t necessary. For the Jews Saturday was the Sabbath—for Christians its Sunday. Either way the Sabbath is no longer a day protected from the cares and occupations of our six-day world. It won’t be except as we intentionally and faithfully (with fidelity) choose such time to be more of who we are meant to be. Jews always had to be intentional about keeping it and could never assume support from the world for this practice. The same is true for Christians now.
Think about what this Sabbath time means this Sunday. Countering the usual world, our presence here means this time isn’t productive in terms of making something or accomplishing something that matters in the world. Here, however, we can find a critical and helpful perspective on those cares and concerns that marked the previous week. Here we may also set aside some of those worries that surfaced in our common life, or maybe we discover some serious questions that we needed to ask.
Sabbath time is the time for the work of the Holy Spirit to remind us of the creating God whose breath shaped a world defined as “GOOD”! We come here to affirm the goodness of God who calls us to be neighbors with all people. We affirm in Baptism that each person is made in the image of God, and that the Holy Spirit is at work in our midst. With Sabbath as a discipline we can re-enter the world or work and responsibility, but with the Sabbath in mind we do so commanded to bring blessing to the world that refuses to rest (even for a day) in God’s assurance.
(Interested in learning more about this topic? Check out Sabbath as Resistence: Saying NO to the CULTURE OF NOW by Walter Bruggemann.)