For the busy person who wants to stay connected to God throughout the week!

Archive for April, 2014

A Weekly Mental Health Day

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Every once in a while my husband would declare what he calls “A Flake Out Day” (FOD). Relax++Relaxation+Music This was a day to do just that…flake out.  He would call all of his friends and let them know he was declaring Friday as a FOD and if they were so inclined they could join him.  Often times as many as six or seven folks would join him for a day of R and R.  These days could include a movie marathon, a bookstore hopping day, a sipping tea and talking day or a day by a babbling brook. 

My daughter often talks about needing a mental health day (MHD) from her job and, intelligent woman that she is, she takes one.  Again, her MHD, is her way of allowing her soul to catch up with her body which has been going far too fast for far too long. 

God commanded us to take a weekly 24 hour Sabbath so that we would have time for our souls to catch up to our bodies and, in our inimitable wisdom, we have passed on that in order to work ourselves into one of the most unhealthy nations on earth, overload our schedules to the point of falling asleep at the wheel, and stress ourselves into the pharmaceuticals hands. 

Our ignorance of this command is not doing us any favors or any good.

What will it take for you to honor the Sabbath?  What if you took one 24 hour Sabbath a month to start with and then worked into a more intentional observance in time?  What would your Sabbath look like?  How would you structure the day?  Who would you invite to join you?  And, most importantly, after a few weeks of these days, how do you think you would feel? 

Are you sighing and saying “if only”?  If so, then change the sigh to an imperative question to your deepest and most real self…”why not?”  Then begin to make positive statements about how, when and who.  “I am taking a 24 hour Sabbath this week with my closest friend.  We are going to sit by the side of a lake, talk, read, eat and rest until the sun goes down.”  Make your own Sabbath plan.

Enjoy!  Be blessed!  Be rested and Be at peace.

Relaxation“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”  Psalm 23.2-3b

Blessings,

Nancy

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The Ultimate Sabbath Moment

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I really think that Easter is the ultimate Sabbath. Easter may come as close as Christians get to the essence of a Sabbath day of rest, celebration and worship and here is why…holy bible

We stop what we are doing to celebrate.  For many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, Easter is a time to celebrate the new life that is bursting around us.  It is day where you will find more people out for a walk, attending a special event, or strolling the public parks and gardens.   Sabbath was meant to a day that is set apart and different from the other six days.  It was a day set apart to celebrate all of God’s providence and gifts.

We attend worship.  Easter is a big attendance day at church.  Like Christmas, Easter is a day for worship with the family even if you haven’t found yourself in church since Christmas.  (Not a judgment just an observation from years in the pulpit).   Sabbath worship was the highlight of the day.

We dress up.  The days of Easter bonnets may be gone, but there is still something about Easter that makes us want to dress up in a bright, new outfit of pastels and pinafores.  Easter bonnetOur Easter outfits are perfect for Easter but we often don’t wear them on any other day except Easter. On Sabbath special clothes were worn that weren’t worn during the week.

We prepare special foods.   Lamb, egg dishes, or once a year desserts grace our tables and family favorites are requested for Easter Dinner.  The specialty foods of Shabbat were traditional and eagerly awaited as dinner was prepared.

We share our dinner with family and friends.  Gathering around the Easter table whether at home or in a restaurant brings family and friends together to share the holiday.  The same was true of the Shabbat meal.  Inviting friends and even strangers to share the meal with them was a common practice of the Jews.

We express joy, gratitude and love.  The ringing proclamation that “Christ is Risen, Indeed” fills churches with joyous voices of  gratitude and an outpouring of love. The prayers of Shabbat lift up gratitude to God for their life as the chosen people and to remind them of all that God has done for them. 

We experience the depth of God’s love for us.  As Christians stand in awe at the entrance to the empty tomb and take in the magnitude of the resurrection and it what it means for us, so do the Jews remember the passover and God’s saving act in the Exodus. 

IMG_2589_optWe surround ourselves with the beauty of nature.  At Easter time buds are pushing up out of the earth after a long winter’s sleep and the colors of Spring replace the starkness of long, dark winter days.  Flowers fill sanctuaries as well as grocery stores and florist shops.  Sabbath honors the creator of all of earth’s beauty and bounty and spending time in the out of doors was a Sabbath delight.

 There is one little problem with this comparison….Sabbath is meant to be a day of rest for everyone.  For some folks (women and pastors especially)…it is not always day of rest.  So, here’s my Sabbath Moment suggestion…Pitch in and lend them a hand so no one carries the entire workload on this most exciting day of the Christian calendar.

May you be blessed this day and may new life find its way into your heart and mind.

“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.” 

                                                                                                                           Matthew 28.6

Happy Easter,

Nancy

 

 

Sabbath Liturgy

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

The word liturgy comes from the Greek word , leitourgi, meaning work of the people or public service.  When most of us think of liturgy we think of Sunday worship but from the meaning it could be extended to include what we do all week with our lives.  As Ann Voskamp writes, “The liturgy of our life is all the services that our lives perform – making all our moments a movement of holiness.”

Have you ever thought of your day-to-day routine as liturgy as holy movements?  Going to work on Monday morning or folding the laundry on Thursday or taking your child to piano lessons or baseball practice are all acts of liturgy…are all movements of holiness…are all moments in which we have a choice to be fully present to all around us.

Time business concept.All the moments of our lives, all 525,600 minutes in a year or 44,676,000 minutes in 85 years of an average life span, are all moments of liturgy or holiness.

How we choose to spend those moments is what makes up our work, our public service, our liturgy.  It is the moments that matter because they add to something more than the sum of the ticks on a clock.  

 

Savoring those moments and using them to pay attention to the world and the Creator of the world around us makes for good liturgy.  And makes for a very good life.

Again, as Ann Voskamp writes, “life is not an emergency but a gift to slow down and savor.  It glorifies God to spend your extraordinary life by paying attention enough to the moments that you enjoy God”.  what's next

Sabbath is meant to be a time to slow down and savor creation, a time to enjoy God, and a time for God to enjoy our moments of calm, peace and rest.   It also is the time that refreshes us so we can spend the rest of our moments throughout the week in a liturgical frame of mind that offers the world our greatest gift – the gift of ourselves fully present. 

“Keep my Sabbaths as holy rest days, signposts between me and you, signaling that I am God, your God.”                                               Ezekiel 20.20 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

 

Surprised

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

When was the last time you were surprised?  Not the jump out of your skin kind of surprise or the cynical response to a changed behavior but a real, honest to God, surprise of wonder and joy? 

Can’t remember?…me either.  

However, as I watched my 10 month old grandson sit in a swing for the first time and feel the breeze on his face as his mother pushed him I saw it on his face.  A mixture of ‘what is this, Mom?’ and ‘oh, wow, that feels so cool’ flashed across his face and then he broke out in a belly laugh that made heads turns.  Now that is surprise, wonder and joy all in one.  And for those watching we couldn’t help but be caught up in his surprise and joy.  Laughter came from all around.  It was one of those sweet moments of life.young mother and her cute daughter swinging on a swing at the beach

And, it was for me, one of those sweet Sabbath moments of life.  In that moment all the beauty, joy, love and peace that God wants for his people burst out this little boy reminding me that life is meant to be a daily delight and surprise if we are truly connected to our God. 

I know there are the moments of tragedy and sorrow that break our hearts and threaten to destroy our spirits.  I have known them too.  Our low points can be as low as our high points are high.  And with both there is a total experience of life’s joys and sorrows, life’s surprises and wonder, life’s questions and confusions.   Where does that joy come from?  How does one climb back out of the abyss?  How do joy and sorrow mingle so completely and is it those highs and lows that make us human…creatures made in the image of God? 

To be alive and surprised by all it brings is to feel the full range of emotions from gladness to sadness.  I believe that to be fully alive, feeling the ups and downs is what brings us into relationship with our God.  The one who is surprises us, comforts us, laughs with us and cries with us.  To have that connection with God we have to stop and take a rest with God, to bask in the gift of Sabbath and to show God our true emotions in all our experiences.

It is in those sweet and bittersweet Sabbath moments that we pause and look to God knowing God will be looking back with open arms, a knowing laugh or sigh and the promise of eternal surprises.  

“O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!

He forgives your sins – every one.  He heals your diseases – every one.  He redeems you from hell – saves your life.  He crowns you with love and mercy – a paradise crown.  He wraps you in goodness – beauty eternal. He renews your youth – you’re always young in his presence.”  Psalm 105 2-5 The Message. 

“And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18.3IMG_1058_opt

Blessings,

Nancy

 

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