I love the idea of Sabbath. When seminar leaders, biblical scholars and preachers admonish our frenzied, harried ways, I “Amen”: part in solidarity, part in shame. “Tired people are hard pressed to be generous people” so says Walter Brueggeman. I agree, but as I think more about the call to Sabbath rest I wonder about the people to whom I preach who don’t have the luxury to stop for 24 hours let alone for 8. Granted we all make choices that crowd our calendars with activities of all sorts. But admonishing people about being frenzied and harried may not be the most effective way of getting them to get off the merry go round of activity so they can develop their interior life.
Church could be more helpful too, doing less and just being more. In my opinion, our denomination’s Regional and General levels would do well to do a lot less so congregations could spend more time being congregations and less time propping up a denominational structure, but perhaps I digress.
All of us need encouragement to turn down the dial of activity, noise and distraction. All of us need support so we can really rest in our spirits and be refreshed. It is ultimately our responsibility to create the space and give ourselves this time for re-creation.
I know I am more generous of heart, more generous with grace when I am more rested. Getting adequate rest and spiritual renewal for myself is my responsibility. I can receive this in worship and in the garden, with friends over a good meal as well as in the company of a good book. I believe Jesus invites us into a life of generous grace, not only for ourselves, but to offer to other people. In order to do this, we need our rest too, time to reconnect with God and with people who share our values and vocation.
Jesus took time away in prayer, developing his own interior life. His practice is one worth taking up. Jesus also asked his followers to consider the lilies and the birds, how well they grow and live. Our harried and frenzied striving will not add value to our life and it certainly won’t add years. Maybe the yoke of Christ is lighter than we thought.