Lenten Devotional: February 14th
Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.
It works out well that I am writing about keeping Sabbath on the Sabbath, but the truth is I have always had trouble with this fourth commandment.
In fact, for most of my life I have taken great pride in breaking this commandment. While I don't think that I would ever boast to you about breaking the other commandments like murder or stealing, it doesn't take much to get me boasting how I have labored for my family and for you seven days a week.
I used to think that Sabbath was important but not essential, not in "big ten" but somewhere down the line after "thou shall not pass on the shoulder of Hwy 75." I have changed my mind on that. I now think that for my life and yours, Sabbath time (which I still fail to take regularly) is not just important but is essential.
If we are to enjoy life, if we are to be healed, if we are to gain perspective, if we are to remember who we are and whose we are, Sabbath time is absolutely essential to our lives. Sabbath, which for the Israelites literally meant "to stop building more bricks for Pharaoh." Sabbath: to slow down, to rest, to stop and remember that God can handle things without us for at least one day.
In this 24/7 world it may not be possible to take a whole day without work, a whole day where we don't sneak a little work in like an alcoholic sneaks a drink. But I also wonder if we can at least take a few hours and do something seemingly extravagant, completely unnecessary.
Spend a morning at White Rock Lake, spend an afternoon at the Arboretum, go for a long walk to nowhere, put a flower in a vase, play a game. Follow your heart rather than the instructions.
I wonder if we could spend at least some time everyday focusing on only one thing at a time. Take 30 minutes in an afternoon and just listen to the music you love. Take an hour on Thursday morning and come in to the Sanctuary to pray. Have lunch with a friend but have no agenda. Be aware of the gift of this one moment. It is true, wherever you go, that really is "where you are." It is true, that this moment, this precious moment is the only moment you are promised.
And here is the biggie – can we carve out a whole day, or a couple of hours each day, where we completely unplug? That means no iPhone, no Facebook, no television, no technology. When I do this I always come away so refreshed.
It wouldn't be truthful to not tell you that there's a catch to this gift of Sabbath. For Sabbath really is more gift than command. No one, I mean no one, will make you practice Sabbath. Only you can take the gift for yourself.
Sabbath, it is not just important. It is essential.
O God, I confess that I often get too busy to take Sabbath time. Thank you for the gift of Sabbath so that we can remember you are God, and we are not God. Give us the perspective and courage and thoughtfulness to begin to take time for Sabbath. In your Holy name we pray. Amen.
Rev. Brent Barry, Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church