Tag Archives: Sabbath rest

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A Hymn For the End of The Sixth Day

Hallowed is your name.  Blessed are those places so sacred because we, in our labyrinth wanderings have suddenly encountered you there. We thought we were alone and abandoned, Holy One.  We were certain all of this, all of this–was some accident without purpose. And then a bird hidden in a tree sang and the song of other birds, these were twined to stars barely visible in the dawn and somewhere human voices were interchanged within the grand landscape of it all and we awakened. To presence. To the sheer, staggering beauty of it all and the truth that it did not have to be. But it is. And I am.

Guide me through what the world calls Friday.  Help me now to be rid of things that have kept me preoccupied and unfocused so that I give up what was vitally important for what was trivial or secondary or even mediocre.  I would lay these aside like a swimmer discards the weight of clothes and objects in order to glide through the life world.  I can see the sabbath rest breaking over the horizon. Rest, restoration, healing these are near.

For the Day of Rest, Lord God, we are grateful. For the end of the sixth day, its lengthening shadows arrive not as darkness but as measured rest and reprieve.  I don’t need to work now. No more delusions about my work saving the world.  I will ponder the Creator and Sustainer and the Liberator.  To all your creatures, great and small, Lord God, bestow Sabbath rest.  An end to work for a while. A reprieve from suffering. A gate opened to candles lit and friendships kindled and family embraced. Let the day begin. Let the sixth day end.  Hallowed be your name.  Amen.

The Counter-Cultural Power of Covenant Community

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Once upon a time, way back in the 1970s, I worked in a warehouse.  It was a non-union shop in Florida, low wages, hard work and people pretty much stuck.  I was between college and seminary.  It did not take long to see the patterns of these laborers. They worked strictly by the clock.  They had to clock in on time and they definitely wanted to clock out on time.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.  And you know what comes on Friday: TGIF.

People did and do work for the week-end. I’m going to skip over the long battles in this country for worker’s rights and how so many today take for granted that they get a week-end or work a 40 hour week instead of seven days, sun-up to sun-down.  This pattern is what I am focused on, how living for the week-end is ingrained in people’s lives. People are always looking to get across the finish line on Friday and begin the week-end. And then they push their stone back up the hill again starting Monday.

There is another pattern available to us. There is a way to break through the maze of work and and mindless binges in a haze of drugs, drinking or shopping.  That pattern  is called keeping the Sabbath. Whether or not you strictly adhere to the biblical notion of Sabbath beginning on sunset Friday to sunset Saturday or you simply block Sunday out and make time for worship, doing so provides remarkable gifts.  I’ll list a few (there are many more!):

*You are not working but resting and acknowledging the Creator who also sustains the world. And you are remembering this God who is Holy and Just expects us to live holy and just lives, so in that regard, you participate in a primal counter-cultural protest and are liberated into a joyful and satisfying life.

*You are being reminded that you cannot do it all and are not expected to save the world and all of its problems. What you are required to do is walk justly and act mercifully and do your best to alleviate some small amount of suffering in your corner of the universe (I’m paraphrasing Albert Schweitzer with that last phrase).

*You are creating a covenant with others to care for one another and our world. What results from this –week in and week out– is communal discourse or community.  This is one of the greatest antidotes to not only loneliness but our struggle with our own identity.  When you lose yourself inside a covenantal community you end up gaining your life and an identity that can sustain you when you enter back into the work-a-day world.

Many of us are struggling in this madness of an administration that seems hell bent on turning its back on middle America, poor Americans, sick Americans, aging Americans.  I really do believe that the way to peace is peace, the way to justice is justice. Introduce a new pattern or revive the pattern of Sabbath rest in your life.  Find a communal discourse and live at the center of it.

~See you Sunday.

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Dial It Down

You may have noticed I have been away from the pulpit and from the blog post.  Vacation beckoned me and I responded and how glad I was to break away.  Re-creation is an important theological idea, folks.  It is interconnected with Sabbath rest and biological aspects of renewal we depend upon, like sleep!  I rested a while and frankly, not waking up each day dailed into the Trump Soap Opera was a gift.

Returned now, I am very tempted to speak to the continued shredding of our democratic core values and hopes as a diverse and unified nation.  The failure of diplomatic and mature solutions to Korea, the abysmal silence in the face of White Supremacists in Charlottesville, and the myriad other subjects that occupy us each day now since the inauguration of a White Nationalist to the Presidency of the United States.

But here is what I’d like to say to you as you begin your week:  dial it down. Turn off the news.  See if you can go twelve hours without reading any news or commentary.  In that time, dial into prayer and contemplation, rest and renewal.  Your mind really does not need to access all the information out there.  And I use “information” in its broadest sense.  Don’t tweet for a morning or an afternoon.  When you do this you recognize and honor the truth that Christ holds all things together, not any president.  When you dial it down, you turn off those dripping faucets of anger and resentment.  Take a break. Take a vacation. Take a Sabbath.  The Apostle Paul said it beautifully in his tender letter to the church at Philippi:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” [4:8]  Dial it down and contemplate these things. Start today.

~See you Sunday, Pastor Bledsoe

Sabbath Snow Day

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So on this Sunday, the third and final day of the Blizzard of 2016, I did something I usually do not do on a Sunday:  I stayed home.  And let me say this–staying home on  a Sunday left me empty.  People can yap and complain all they want about church-goers and hypocrisy but they miss a deeper point.  We need each other and being in a holy place together on a weekly basis goes a long way to resolving the issue of hypocrisy.  It may not cure it, but it blunts it.  Besides, you can’t talk about hypocrisy unless there is some standard of holiness and justice.

What do people do on Sundays?  Laundry, grocery shopping, shoveling snow, watching way too much television and maybe a football game with talking heads and politics thrown into that drab mix.  What a formula for cynicism and despair.

Keeping Sabbath–worshipping in communion with others on a specified day of the week where we rest from work and contemplate the gift of our lives–that is remarkably energizing and empowering for a meaningful life.  I missed singing with you, praying with you, hearing the Word of God read and declared in our midst. Didn’t you? And if you haven’t been to church in a long time or ever, then you don’t know what you’re missing.  The snow day is over, let’s come together for sabbath rest and empowerment this coming Sunday, January 31st.  The Holy, Just and Loving God of Jesus Christ stand guard over us and give us peace.  ~See you Sunday