Summer Sabbath Time

posted Jul 19, 2019, 9:05 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you!

I say it every summer. I’m going to slow down, take some time to read, reflect, have more intentional prayer time, maybe go on a day-long silent retreat upstate, and listen more closely for God’s voice. In other words, I’ve made countless summer resolutions to spend quality Sabbath time, as Episcopal priest 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. 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. I’m especially mindful of how my inability to go slower is ironically at odds with our summer sermon series, Be Still and Know. Hmmm . . .

But yesterday was different. As I didn’t take my usual day off on Monday, I decided I would have my day of rest yesterday. Yes, I may have done some cleaning, but once my chores were done, I decided to go and get a manicure-pedicure. Oh, how indulgent! Strangely, something within me battled going to the salon. I really didn’t want to spend an hour-and-a-half away from home just sitting in a chair. I felt fidgety, thinking my time would be better used doing some catch-up administrative work. But, I went anyway. And instead of reading a magazine or a book, or scrolling through Facebook, I let go of my uneasiness, closed my eyes and prayed, talking with God, or rather, asking God a lot of questions. And after yammering on, I grew quiet and listened.

BBT was correct. 

I may not have taken the entire day to be still, but in those two hours, the kingdom did come, at least for a bit. And my soul was not only enlivened, it was refreshed and centered, and my fidgetiness went away.

My prayer for you this summer 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 Christ, the kingdom will come and you will rest easy in the amazing grace we are lavishly given each day.

Come this Sunday at 10:30 AM to be in the presence of the Divine and witness a glimmer of the kingdom coming. Please note that due to the excessive heat, worship will be in the air-conditioned Education Building. We have a lot of special music this week, and Juliet Gallagher, Dan Pannebaker, Izaak Thorpe, Jacie Thorpe, and James Zeller will lead us in song. There will also be a Visible Proclamation of the Word portion of our Scripture reading called “The Dinner Party.” I will be preaching from Luke 10.38-42 and my sermon title is Word and Work. 

I look forward to welcoming you on Sunday as we gather to worship our God who loves us more than we can ask or imagine. 

In gratitude for the joy of being your Pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish