This morning I had the rare opportunity to relax at home before heading to church. It’s strange to think how rare it is, but reality is that Sunday mornings are usually rushed as we head to church. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve brewed coffee only to forget it on the counter, how often we skip breakfast or just buy something from Tim’s because we’d rather trade extra sleep for a relaxed morning at home.
Today was different because I went to bed early AND didn’t need to be at church until 10 am, so I had a whole window of time in which everyone was awake, fed and dressed, but it simply wasn’t time to go. I sat on my couch and savoured my coffee and listened to worship music and… rested.
Forgive me for being so stunned at the peaceful gift it was to simply relax and enjoy a morning off on the Sabbath.
Last week, Matt’s sermon was on Mark 2:23-3:6 – a passage with two stories where Jesus demonstrates his understanding and Lordship of the Sabbath. We reflected on how often we humans twist God’s rules into steps of righteousness instead of guidelines for the relationship that will lead us to righteousness. Part of the amazing gift of Jesus’ life is his example, his perfect example of a human life submitted to God and full of the joy, peace and power that come with that obedience. It is so easy to get bogged down in keeping the rules, living up to expectations, comparing ourselves to others. I don’t see that in Jesus.
The commandment to keep Sabbath says this:
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11)
Why does God command us to rest? It’s not even like keeping Sabbath is just a note in the appendix of God’s law; it’s one of the ten commandments, and it’s one of the longest commandments. By resting on the Sabbath, we follow not only God’s law, but his example. We pause from our work, as good as it may be, and we rest because that is just as holy as whatever we make/do/accomplish. Today, that restful space led me to reflect on a Bible verse and look at my relationship with Jesus in a new way. Sometimes we just need a set apart time to be humble and thank God that He is the one who causes everything to hold together, not us. I don’t think God rested because he was tired, but I often am, and keeping Sabbath can be a way to invite God to work through weakness and limitations. In Mark 3:1-6 Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, and that reminds me that God still heals and restores us.
Maybe it’s not even about the lessons we get week by week, but just the practice of resting. We can receive whatever God may give us, but ultimately Sabbath is not about getting anything new, just making the most of the relationship we already have.
Thank-you so much for taking the time to write this Alyssa. It is so well written and so timely! I’ve read and re-read this to let the truth sink in. Keeping the Sabbath “wHOLY” (intended double word play) is something I’ve forgotten in the midst of the most hectic time I’ve lived so far…and yet this is the truth I need to hold to the most during this time!
Thanks for your comment Laura! I miss you roommate! 🙂 I still often wonder whether Sabbath rest is as illusive as I think it is, or if it’s actually just waiting to be received. I find that when my day-to-day life gets busy and full and I neglect spending time with God it feels like there’s never enough time but when I remember that all I need to do is just… stop being busy for a moment, those moments become easier to see and feel and take.
Ah, I was hoping I’d find a gem after not being on FB for several days. Thanks for the good read!
Happy to oblige! Haha 🙂 I’m amazed how often the “simple” things are so easy to miss and so easy to miss out on, Sabbath rest being one of them!
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