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

Posts tagged ‘Sabbath’

Advent as Sabbath

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. 

Nativity-Vector

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. christmas preparation blog 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? 

Christmas Angel

…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

Blessings,

Nancy

 

Soul Cravings

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Haven’t written much lately because, quite honestly, I was off seeking some Sabbath time whenever I could.  As I thought about the drive behind this very intense time of Sabbath moments, I realized that my soul actually craved the time so fiercely that I had no choice but to listen and respond.

I’m not talking about feeling tired so I took a nap, although I did that too.  I’m nappingnot talking about pausing to read a few good chapters in a book, although I did that too.  No, what I am talking about when I say soul cravings is a visceral, almost indescribable, pull toward quiet or gentleness or solitude.  The pull, the craving, so large, so powerful that it directed my steps before my conscious mind could respond – (read talk me out of it.)

Have you ever felt those soul cravings?    I’m sure I have felt them before and yet this past month they have overruled my task nature so strongly that I have come to see them almost as a supernatural force (read God) compelling me. 

slider #2The results of those quiet times in the midst of busyness, of soft music as I drifted off to nap time, of the feel of a soft breeze on my face as I sought a sanctuary of solitude outside was serenity.  This serenity permeated not only my soul but my mind too.  I was so much more patient.  I laughed more. My stress level decreased a hundred fold.  I found a flow in my day that wasn’t there before these moments. 

What made these moments different from other Sabbath moments I have taken over the years?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps it was the compelling nature of them that went far beyond my usual “I’ll rest on schedule” and caused me to abandon what I was doing to seek the deeper connection with my soul in that moment.   Whatever the reason, I felt the difference and I.do.not.want.to.lose.it. 

I may have just described a unique experience and yet I think not.  We all have soul cravings.  The difference for me this time was my soul was hungry for true Sabbath it took over my body and my mind. 

As the old story of the African tribesmen goes when they were guiding a group of American businessmen on a safari who refused to slow down except for a few hours of sleep each night.  wind up downThe tribesmen refused to budge one morning stating unequivocally that they were sitting still until their souls caught up to their bodies.

My body and soul have been reunited this past month and I pray that I don’t let them get separated ever again.

spiritual energy

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46.10

Blessings,

Nancy

Sabbath Keeping as Sin?

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I recently saw a question on a chat board asking if Sabbath keeping was considered a sin for Christians.  After doing a double take and verifying that it said what I thought it said, I paused to consider what could make someone think that.

Did this questioner feel the Old Testament had no authority for Christians? Ten Commandments Then, all the commandments in the Hebrew Scriptures are null and void and I don’t think that has merit.

Did they feel that because Jesus said Sabbath was made for man and not man for Sabbath that somehow it was not necessary? I don’t think Jesus words seem to negate the need for a Sabbath. He is just taking the legalism out of it.

Or, did this person feel that Sunday as the Lord’s Day had co-opted the need for Sabbath keeping?  Perhaps…

Historically at the outset of Christianity, both Saturday, as Sabbath, and Sunday, as the Lord’s Day of Resurrection were observed. Christ is risen Eventually, Christians dropped the Saturday Sabbath and focused on Sunday as the day to worship and rest. 

So perhaps in a literal sense his question has merit.  However, in the spirit of the fourth commandment, the need for rest and God’s giving it to us as a command and a gift still holds true.  The spirit of this law is not about the legalisms that have grown up around the Sabbath such as no reading, playing or enjoying yourself.  The Spirit of this command offers us a life-giving pause, time to rest, reconnect with God and loved ones, be healed of our busyness and to give thanks for the bounty and beauty of life that God has shared with us.  Steps to the sun

I don’t see how that could ever become a sin. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  John 3.16-17

Blessings,

Nancy

Simplicity and Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I have been working on simplifying my space.  That is a nice way of saying I am cleaning out, throwing away and organizing a lot of stuff that has accumulated over the years. 

Big mess in an over stuffed suburban garage.

And in order to make sure I actually stick to this plan (I’ve had good intentions for years without success), I have hired a home organizer and she is holding my feet to the fire.

The more I get rid of the lighter I feel and seeing a once jumbled basement become neat and orderly is a joy beyond words…I know it sounds silly but it is!!  Tomorrow we tackle the storage room upstairs. 

This purging and shedding also coincides with my working through the 7 spiritual disciplines.  The discipline for this month is simplify.  I just love these little God winks.  Trust me I didn’t connect the two until just a few minutes ago. I was so caught up in the process of both that I missed the connection.  Sigh.

As I reflected on the physical and environmental aspect of simplifying I realized that it could be applied to Sabbath as well.  How many times have I said or heard “I can’t take a 24 hour Sabbath because I have too much to do”?  overworked manHaving too much to do is another dimension of too much stuff in my life.  If I simplified my calendar, what would my excuse be for not taking a Sabbath?  If I simplified my life, what things would I pay more attention to?  If I simplified my life, what healing would take place that I am avoiding?  If I simplified my life, which relationships would improve and which ones would be tossed out with the other stuff? 

Perhaps it is not that we are too busy to take a Sabbath but that we keep busy in order to avoid that time of rest, reflection and renewal?  Perhaps.

I’m going to try a friendly experiment and see what happens when I take a 24 Sabbath rest once a week.  Clock in waste paper basketIn doing so I may learn just what things really can be eliminated from my to do list permanently, what things are precious and life-giving and what things have been blocking my own spiritual pathway. 

And I know this is going to be very hard…even harder than throwing out my children’s report cards from 1st and 2nd grade.  I wonder who I can hire to hold my accountable to this decluttering process?

“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.”  Proverbs 29.18 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

Wonders

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Starfish on ShoreMy two-year old grandson delights in discovery.  Everything fascinates him, sparks his curiosity and attracts his attention.  With each new encounter he lets us know how he feels with a gasp, an ohhh or a giggle.  He puts his little face as close as he can get it to check out a flower or a hinge.  He claps when the music stops no matter where he is – home, car or in a store.  He squeals with delight when he sees his sister, mom, dad or Nana and Papa.  Giving his dog hugs and kisses is a favorite pasttime. Seeing a camera brings a squinched up “cheese” and reviewing pictures keeps him entertained. 

Watching him so present to all that is going on around him is a privilege and he reminds me that the world is full of wonders  that I take for granted or feel I am too sophisticated to ohhh and ahh, gasp or giggle over.  flexible kidsMaybe that is why Jesus said that unless we become like little children we will never see the Kingdom of Heaven.  Heavenly images are all around us.  Delights, wonders and miracles fill our days.  But without the eyes of a child I only see what my jaded, cynical and wounded eyes want to see.  Sabbath was meant to be a day of wonder, gasps and giggles.  Wonder at the story of God and God’s people.  Gasps at the faithfulness of God to save and guide God’s people.  And giggles of joy that we are blessed by knowing this. 

Peacock with Outstretched FeathersWhat would happen if you looked at the world this week through the eyes of a two-year old?  What would you see that you have missed?  How would your attitude change?  Where would you find the wonders in your life?  When would you gasp in delight?  How often would you break out in giggles? 

Join me this week in doing just that.  I am pretty sure that God will delight with us and that our impact on those around us will increase a thousand fold.

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love our name may rejoice in you.”  Psalm 5.11

Blessings,

Nancy 

Easter: The Ultimate Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

holy bible

I’ve said it before and I will say it again.  Easter is the ultimate Sabbath.  It is a day we observe as a high Holy Day.  It is a day we remember what God has done for us.  It is a day we rejoice and greet with cheers and Alleluia’s.  It is a day we dress up in new clothes especially purchased for this time. Easter bonnet It is a day we worship.  It is a day we spend with friends and family.  It is a day of special food and intentional table fellowship.  It is a day when we acknowledge that the past is over and the new has begun not just for a week but for a life time.  All the things that a traditional weekly Shabbat does.

Yes, it is the ultimate Sabbath.

May Easter bring you peace, rest and joy and may it remind you that you truly are part of something bigger, more powerful and life-giving than we, as humans, could ever imagine.

Fake Butterflies

“Death swallowed up by triumphant Life!  Who got the last word, oh, Death?  Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?”  1 Cor. 15.35 The Message

Blessings to you, Easter People, and Blessed Sabbath,

Nancy

Lent and Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

ash wednesday6Today is Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of Lent.  Many Christians will wear the mark of ashes on their foreheads today signifying their entrance on the path of Lent.  There will be Christians who will give up some things and others who will take something on.  There will be Christians who will enter into a six-week period of spiritual reflection seeking a deeper commitment to Christ.  And there will be Christians who will begin but get sidetracked along the way to Holy Week because life just gets in the way. 

To be honest with you, I have no idea which group I will end up in by the time Maundy Thursday dawns.  My higher self wants to believe I will go deep and long on this playing field and my realistic self isn’t so optimistic. 

It’s a lot like how I approach Sabbath.  Some weeks I am so on top of my game with Sabbath moments and time that I wonder how I ever let myself fall out of that life-giving rhythm and some weeks my discipline is anything but. 

And yet, I try, we try, and some times I/we succeed because somewhere in our heart of hearts I know, we know, how important these ritualized times of breaking away from the day-to-day habits are.  There is something compelling in the human psyche that draws us to periods of reflection on and awareness of the  deeper mysteries of life, our connection to them and what it means to live with a purpose beyond our own material needs. 

I believe that is part of the God seed planted within our souls that yearns to connect with the source of life, love and light.  And if I can nurture that seed enough over the next six weeks of Lent, I know that the light will grow brighter and warmer each day until the Son rises on Easter morning reminding me again of just how much God loves me.  And I also believe that if I take a detour off the Lenten path of reflection and sacrifice, that my God will still shine brightly and still love me on Easter; however, I will be the one who has cheated myself of six weeks of profound companionship and joy.  Woman praising and enjoying golden sunset

“For in him we live and move and have our being.”  Acts 17.28

Blessings,

Nancy

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