Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Keeping Sabbath

Sunday, April 10th was an exceptionally busy and stressful day for me. It was emotionally charged, mentally draining and spiritually challenging. I will not go into details...

In the midst of the busyness, my iPhone chimed. Wanting a break from the craziness, I took a look. It was Facebook reminding me of a memory from a year ago. For non-Facebook users, they have a new feature where they remind you of "memories" - posts that you made on the exact, same date in the past. Facebook was telling me that on that very day a year ago, I had posted this picture with the following caption:

"Lord, on this day-off, deliver me from the guilt that comes from doing nothing. Thank you for a day that I can 'simply be' and be away from the pressure to 'always do'. Amen."

It was a great reminder to pause, to breathe, to be still and know that God is God! This Facebook memory got me through the day, allowing me to respond to its most trying moments with grace.

How important it is for us to be reminded often that God is God and we are not! And it is in moments of Sabbath, of pause and being still that this takes root in us.

Our theme for this year's Annual Conference session is Keeping Sabbath. It is in recognition of our constant need for times of pause and reflection. Patrick Scriven, Director of Communications and Young People's Ministries of the PNW Conference, writes about this beautifully in this article:

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We live in a busy, fast-paced world. Our days are often scheduled from the moment we wake till the time we collapse in our beds with too few breaks along the way. Work, commitments to our family, the overlapping lives of friends, and the church compete for our time. It’s easy to lose ourselves in this swiftly moving river of modern life.

This isn’t what God intends for us.

As Christians we inherit a story of creation where God rests after six long days bringing what is into being. The Sabbath, this seventh day of rest and remembrance comes to us not just as an example, or a suggestion; it is a command to mark how truly important it is (Exodus 20:8-11). 

We need Sabbath.

Our theme for Annual Conference 2016 is Keeping Sabbath: Resting, Rejoicing, Returning. The order of these three “R” words is important. 
  • In the resting we stop, mark a break, take a stand against a world that keeps saying “go faster,” and find an opportunity to let go of what we don’t truly need. In the cessation of our activity we create space for reflection on what we have just experienced, integration of these things into the memories we carry with us, and listening for what God is calling us toward tomorrow.
  • Well-rested like birds in the shade of a large mustard tree (Mark 4:31-32), we find ourselves rejoicing in song and prayer acknowledging the many gifts we have received. Where we previously saw only scarcity, and were sometimes laden with anxiety, we can now begin to see that God has provided all we need for the work that is truly before us.
  • After Sabbath, we make the choice again of returning to the mission fields God has called us to. Where we entered our Sabbath time going through the motions, we now find ourselves renewed and ready to continue the work of calling people together to transform our communities and the world with the love Jesus Christ incarnated for us.
The 2016 Annual Conference Sessions draw to a close a busy quadrennium. As it is in any other year, we will have work that we will need to do together when we gather. But we are working to incorporate moments where we can keep Sabbath together: resting, rejoicing and returning as disciples on the path together.

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May we be intentional about making and keeping Sabbath a part of of our lives. In doing so, may we be liberated and empowered by the truth that God is God and we are not.

Your fellow disciple,
Carlo

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