Dear Sabbath Seekers,
Are you making resolutions? Or, have you given up?
I find that I make resolutions on an ongoing basis and still fail to achieve them most of the time. However, if you are thinking of upping your spiritual game this year, let me give you one of my resolutions. Don’t force it.
Too many people set themselves up to fail because they create a resolution that they really don’t want to do, but feel they should. For example, “in 2016, I will spend 30 minutes a day in prayer and Bible reading” is a great resolution if you like to sit quietly and contemplate. If you don’t, then, oh boy, it isn’t going to be fun or successful.
Instead, you may enjoy walking for 30 minutes each day so why not incorporate prayer and contemplation on the walk. A peripatetic spiritual practice so to speak. Or, maybe you enjoy the new adult coloring book phenomenon. Why not incorporate your time with God with the coloring?
The point is our spiritual lives, our time with God, should not be a drudgery to be endured but a festival to be enjoyed. (Someone said that once and I forgot who it was but know it isn’t original to me). Be creative in finding ways to do your Sabbath moments, times with God or 24 hour Sabbath periods. Make it something that you draws you in and nearer to God not something that puts distance between you and God.
Now, that is a resolution that I can and plan to keep!
“As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Psalm 42.1
Dear Sabbath Seekers,
Now that we are about to begin the third week of Advent it has dawned on me that Advent is in many ways a four-week Sabbath experience. Or it could be.
Advent is a time of waiting and the word itself means coming. So it is, for Christians, a time of waiting for the coming of Jesus. It is a time of preparation where we review our readiness for the arrival of the one who will change the world’s view of everything; and, if we let him, change us.
It is not necessarily a quiet waiting but rather an active waiting as Parker Palmer calls it and, yes, that active waiting can be quiet. It can also, however, be a time of activity that requires us to open ourselves up to what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It may require some extra time with the Bible. It may require some extra time with a spiritual advisor or director. It may require extra time at church or in prayer or journaling.
Unfortunately, the kind of activity we do during Advent has more to do with preparing our homes and our trees with the festive trimmings of Christmas. An exhausting endeavor for many and one that leaves little time for active reflection and soul-searching.
(Maybe that is why we get ourselves so crazy busy each Advent season. It is easier to do the things that exhaust us than it is to look at the things that make us uncomfortable and convict us as followers of Jesus. BTW this is also why I think there is so much in conflict in churches. It detracts us from the real work of being disciples which is far harder than stirring up dissension and we can avoid the whole messy discipleship thing..but I digress)
As with a true Sabbath observance Advent is a time of celebration and remembrance. We celebrate the joy of the one who we know is coming and we remember just how significant that coming was/is/will be for us.
I know we are drawing close to the final countdown to Christmas, and I know how busy these final days can be. However, what if we made an extra effort to prioritize the heart preparation for Christmas during these last two weeks and let ourselves be part of an Advent Sabbath? What would that look like in your life? How would this add to your Christmas preparation rather than detract from it? What would have to change to make it happen? What might change if you did?
…and all were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2.18-19