We’ve been through a tough year, and many of us are finding a bit of rest during these summer months. Thank God for that! I’d like to take this opportunity to think theologically with you about sabbath.
Karoline Lewis curates a great website called Working Preacher and she writes, “Much of what we pay attention to… is neither meaningful nor life-giving. Burnouts and breakdowns are not always the result of exhaustion—they are symptoms of passions run dry and waning joy. The answer is not to work harder, says Jesus. The answer is to allow ourselves rest. Without rest for the weary, nothing gets done and nothing new can be dreamed. Without rest for your soul, eventually your soul will give in to the weight of the world. The world needs a church whose people are responsive, who are rested up to see forward and revitalized to have a vision.”
Along these lines, Walter Brueggeman’s fantastic book Sabbath as Resistance shows sabbath as the most counter-cultural act that the Israelites can perform in Pharaoh’s Egypt. Pharaoh wants more and more bricks for more and more economic output, breaking backs along the way. But God still calls the people to remember sabbath and keep it holy. Brueggeman believes we can take three lessons from the story:
(1) “That YHWH is not a workaholic;
(2) That YHWH is not anxious about the full functioning of creation; and
(3) That the well-being of creation does not depend on endless work.”
Fusing the Exodus story with Jesus’ good news, he concludes: “’Weariness,’ ‘being heavy-laden,’ and ‘yoke’ are all ways of speaking of the commodity society of endless productivity… But Jesus offers an alternative: “Come to me and rest!” Indeed, sabbath is a practical divestment so that neighborly engagement, rather than production and consumption, defines our lives… To cease, even for a time, the anxious striving for more bricks is to find ourselves with a “light burden” and an “easy yoke.” It is now, as then, enough to permit dancing and singing into an alternative life.”
So take a good long nap this afternoon. Find some time away from the hustle-bustle. Get out of town for a minute, if you can. Call a friend and put a work project on hold. Be blessed by relationship with your family and friends this summer. May we find rest for our souls in these coming weeks.
I thank God for the joy and privilege of serving with you at All Saints’!