Dear Sabbath Seekers,
Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were joyful and that you were able to experience friends, family and faith in meaningful ways.
For many of us this holiday season was muted by the tragedies in Newtown, CT and Webster, NY. I found it hard to feel lighthearted and merry this year as my heart ached for those families who were living through their worst nightmares. However, there was a deep inner joy that was present because of the reason for the season – God’s sending of his light into a world of darkness so many centuries ago. And that joy cannot be changed regardless of external circumstances. I have learned that I can be sad and still have joy in my heart because of my faith. My inner joy of faith is not the same as feeling happy.
And, perhaps, because this year’s circumstances left me so unhappy about the culture we live in, the increasing lack of respect for human life and the horrific nature of the loss around me, I found my joy a rock upon which to stand, actually, to cling.
This joy is not a pollyanna-ish joy that just skips along on the surface with a la-de-da and fair-thee-well attitude. This joy has taken years to develop and grow. This joy is the result of walking with God and knowing that no matter how awful the world treats me or each other that God is the constant beacon of light calling me forth to be more than I think I can be. This light shines on the darkness and shows me the shadows in areas that need improvement. Improvement that can only come from the outpouring and sharing of love.
The tragedies have shown us how incredibly good, gracious and generous people can be. We have truly witnessed far more than just the evil side of human nature. There has been an outpouring of love, support, and offers of help from total strangers to total strangers who are now friends because of the love modeled and given to us by God.
How does all of this connect to Sabbath Moments? Without taking time out of our busy days and weeks to sit with God, to talk to God, to walk with God, we cannot know this joy and peace that comes in the midst of sadness and chaos. Like any relationship we need to stay connected to God in order for our understanding and appreciation of the other to develop into trust.
What is your commitment to growing your relationship with God this year? Have you been a little lax in taking Sabbath Moments lately? Now is the time to reboot your spiritual core and make time for God. The tragedies are not over I am sure. Grief, pain, death and evil are not going away anytime soon. However, we do have the opportunity to build up our defenses against them and to be in relationship with the one whose love never ends and whose arms fiercely and tenderly hold us in our sorrow.
How will you jumpstart your spiritual batteries this week? May I suggest sitting and meditating on this passage:
“You are true to your name, and you lead me along the right paths. I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won’t be afraid. You are with me, and your shepherd’s rod makes me feel safe.” Psalm 23.3b-4 (CEV)
Blessings on your journey,