Fri Quote - Eugene Peterson - If you keep the Sabbath, you start to see creation not as somewhere to get away from your ordinary life, but a place to frame an attentiveness to your life.
In today's quote, Eugene Peterson suggests that Sabbath inspires an attentiveness to life.
Attentiveness to our lives seems to be a great challenge. Technological advances, such as internet, home computers, and smart phones, keep us attentive to a wealth of information about the world around us. Social media keeps us connected to friends and is a source of news, real and fake. Cable television allows us to customize a host of entertainment, educational and informational programs. We have already, at the beginning of the week, rehearsed some of the demands and responsibilities we must prioritize, like activities for our children, care for aging adults, dr's appointments, chores, etc, etc. Our lives are full. I know people who take lap-tops on vacation so as to check work e-mails because otherwise, the load of unresponded to e-mails that would pile up while on vacation would simply be too much to handle.
And this, perhaps more than any other reason, is why we need to stop regularly and observe Sabbath. Because it seems so illogical and even impossible to stop. But we are careening through our lives, trying to fit everything in, working long hours, working when we aren't at work, working while on vacation, rushing and hurrying without pausing to consider, why? What are my life's goals? What is best for myself and my family? What is necessary for happiness? How do I even define it? 'Life' throws so much at us, not only challenge and struggle, but potential and opportunity. A wise mentor once said to me, 'you can't say yes to everything.' And I would suggest we are trying to do too much. Perhaps it feels good to be busy and important and feel a sense of pride and purpose. But after a while it is exhausting. Perhaps it is a relief to be busy instead of still and silent and alone with our thoughts. But ignored problems and pains don't go away. My point is that we are so busy living life, that we aren't being attentive to life. And that is the benefit of Sabbath. It allows us a time of rest to be attentive, but not anxious. It allows us a time to pause but not for distraction and entertainment alone. It is a time to assess what our lives mean, how our time is used, and above all to listen for the voice of God telling us where, what we are called to be and do. More importantly, who we are called to be.
Let's review all that we have learned about Sabbath. We have learned that Sabbath is a opportunity for us as individuals to be merciful to ourselves, to give ourselves the gift of rest. It is a time in which we can set aside responsibility and enjoy life. And that is the root to so much good. Because we have learned to love ourselves, be grateful and taken the time for joy, Sabbath teaches us how to define what the good life is, how to recognize and then resist those temptations that diminish us and use up. Sabbath teaches us how to love and care for others, to form bonds of friendship, to value community and family. Sabbath teaches us how to be generous and giving and so contribute to the common good. Sabbath teaches us to care for ourselves and for others, because it is a reminder of the God who cares for us. Sabbath teaches us again about who God is and how God acts. God cares and provides and protects. God is the sources of life, we are not, which takes the pressure off of our working and striving. And so Sabbath re-orients our lives. It shows us what is good. It teaches us to balance between purposeful work and rest, sacrifice and joy. It reminds us how valuable and loved we are and how loved others are as well. It rescues us from fear and anxiety and empowers us to face those with confidence. Sabbath, when accepted and observed faithfully has the potential to reshape our lives. Which is exactly what we saw in Sunday's scripture. The Lord of the Sabbath was able to restore the good life.
Fri Prayer - Help me Lord of the Sabbath to pause and take a look at my life, this life you have given me. So much is thrown at me, so many responsibilities, so many challenges, so many opportunities. Help me to pause for Sabbath stillness to listen deeply within myself to rediscover my priorities and also to listen for your call. What would you have me do and be? What should I say yes to, and what do I need to refuse? What work would you have me do? But just as importantly, what joy would you have me experience? In Sabbath stillness, help me pause and look at this life you have given me, not in despair or disappointment, but with gratitude and hope. Amen.