I love this time in January when there are still some lights twinkling in the darkness. Somehow I hear a call to renew within me the practice of Sabbath.
After all the business of the holiday season, Sabbath seems a necessary luxury. I am reminded that Sabbath is a precious gift from our God, a day meant for great joy, to be eagerly awaited throughout the week; a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits. From the very beginning of creation, our creator God gifted us with a time to rest. “And on the seventh day He rested.” Eugene Peterson, a well-known clergyman, has suggested “that Sabbath is that uncluttered time and space in which we can distance ourselves from our own activities enough to see what God is doing.” What an interesting perspective — to see what God is doing in the world and in you and me. It is an invitation to dwell in the grace and mystery of our God.
I had a Sabbath awakening during this past Advent. I am a worrier and I want everyone to be happy. This particular Advent Sunday morning I was pondering the events of the preceding week. I had been dealing with the declining health of a couple relatives and I was anxious. I was worrying about Christmas preparations; would I accomplish everything I had hoped to do? Would my daughters be able to make it home? And if not, what would Christmas look like, feel like this year? Then, in the quiet of this Sunday morning, seeing the beauty of new fallen snow and the glimmering lights of the Christmas tree, I said to myself, I’m not going to worry today. It surprised me. I said it again just to be sure: I’m not going to worry today! In that graced moment, I handed all the perceived demands and self-inflicted expectations over to the Lord, realizing that He could and would take care of them for me and I rested. It was a way of allowing God to do the “good” for me, within me.
On paper it seems simple, yet it needed my intention, my awareness. It was a shift in attitude more than a change in activity. Suddenly, this Sabbath felt so gentle; my spirit felt free. I let go of my worries and expectations which allowed me to be much more present to those I love and those who need my love and to allow God to love me.
Our God knows that there are things that keep us from resting; but more so, He knows our need for the rest that only God can give. He reminds us that the Sabbath was created for us, an invitation to choose the life-giving grace and blessings that are waiting for us. He beckons us to be open, to slow down, to listen and be attentive, to be aware and to mindfully accept the gift of unconditional love.
In this New Year, take some time to dwell in the abundance of our God. May Sabbath grace find a home in you.