Body and Soul

posted Jun 24, 2022, 8:29 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

Grace and peace to you in this season of Ordinary Time.

I say it every summer. I’m going to carve out space to read, reflect, write, have more intentional prayer time, maybe go on a weekend silent retreat, take more walks, and listen more closely for God’s voice. In other words, I’ve made countless summer resolutions to spend quality Sabbath time, as Barbara Brown Taylor (BBT) describes it, With sundown on the Sabbath, I stop seeing the dust balls, the bills, and the laundry. They are still there, but they lose their power over me. One day each week I live as if all my work were done. I live as if the kingdom has come, and when I do the kingdom comes, for one day at least. Now, when I know the Sabbath is near, I can feel the anticipation bubbling up inside of me. Sabbath is no longer a good idea or even a spiritual discipline for me. It is my regular date with the Divine Presence that enlivens both body and soul. 

Doesn’t that sound lovely? And yet . . .

When I make the commitment to have Sabbath, I start out pretty well, but then eventually, when I’m praying and being quiet, my Protestant work ethic kicks in and I see those dust balls, or think, I need to do laundry, or I really need to clean the cat litter, or I must . . . The distractions pile up and then quiet, sitting still Sabbath time with God becomes get-up and do time, and the opportunity to enliven my body and soul becomes forgotten in the tasks of the day. The chores of the day take back power over me.

BBT is correct. It is important to be still and listen for God so our bodies and souls may be refreshed, especially in these times. But if you find it difficult to reconcile BBT’s suggestion for your life, take your cue from Jesus who the Scripture tells us “But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray” (Luke 5.15-16). Jesus took the time to be in the presence of God, to nurture that relationship so that he could accomplish what God called him to do — bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.

Come to worship this Third Sunday after Pentecost in person or on Facebook live to rest easy in the presence of the Divine and witness a glimmer of the kingdom coming. I will be preaching from Galatians 5.1, 13-25 and my sermon title is Life in the Spirit. Tom Martucci will lead us in our musical offerings as we lift our voices to God in praise of God’s everlasting mercy.

My prayer for you this summer after such a long COVID infused two-and-a-half years is that you will take your Sabbath, and not see dust balls, bills, laundry, or whatever else distracts you from being still in the Divine Presence. My hope is that when you are quiet before God the kingdom will come and you will bask in the amazing grace we are so lavishly given each day.

In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish