Tag Archives: sabbath

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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.

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For Thursday

For Thursday a plea for endurance, O God, for my work propels me toward Friday. And before I can get to Friday, I have many things to do and I carry special burdens. A prayer then that I might be focused and concentrate and with energy, complete my tasks.  Lord God, I call to you: help me in my weakness and strengthen me in my strengths.

The stones of Gallilee are strewn across the shore line of the sea where you called fishermen to follow you. So it is with Thursday, tasks like stones pave my pathway. Good Shepherd of Galilee, Fisher of souls, call to me over the din of my little world and hearing you, I aim my boat toward your shore and row. Sabbath is nearing, work awaits me. God have mercy.  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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Sabbath-Keeping As Resistance

The third commandment given to Moses and the Hebrews was, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy 

We are instructed to hallow that day and to remember that God created the worlds and that God liberated the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt.  It is a day of truth-seeking and a time to cultivate covenantal bonds of human dignity and worth. By remembering the Sabbath and hallowing that day, we signal to the world that our commandments come to us via the fountain of life and we are made in the image of God, thus it behooves each of us to live justly, uprightly, and mercifully.

So many of us are stunned by the first three weeks of a new President that has thrown the country into chaos, diminishing our institutional checks and balances, promoting his family’s business from the sanctity of the White House, promoting inaccuracies of all kinds and threatening to destroy politicians who oppose his policies.  What to do in such a time?

Keep the Sabbath.  Hallow the day of rest.  Join in with your brothers and sisters in worship. This is resistance of the subtlest and most profound kind.  Your allegiance is to the King of the Universe, not an earthly prince.  Your strength is renewed and your heart recharged for living a just life.  Your mind is rekindled, the kindling of lies and suspicions and hatreds burned by the fire of truth and of the Divine.  ”We” comes into being.  We  march in the light of God, as we sing on most Sundays. We gather around the table of Christ and give our hearts to the Good Shepherd and to one another.  This is resistance. Here is a source for courage and strength.  I hope to see you Sunday. We need you.  And you need us.  Sunday then.  We hallow the world.  We resist.