Tag Archives: Sabbath

Slow down | Summer Sabbath time

As I observed in this month’s parish newsletter, when my Episcopal 101 class at St. Thomas Church looks at the Church Year, we sometimes talk about how the 50 days of the Easter Season are one-seventh of the calendar.

Easter Season is to the whole year as Sunday is to each week. Just like we put on our “Sunday best” and celebrate the Eucharist on Sundays, the whole Easter Season is a high point in the church’s calendar.

Calendar of Church Year 2015-16

I think it might be the same way with these late summer months of July and August. The next several weeks, about one-seventh of the calendar, are sort of like Saturday.

In the Jewish calendar, Saturday is the Sabbath day, the day of rest. Honoring the Sabbath, in the Biblical story, means taking time off from creating in order to relax and enjoy the fruits of creation. After six days of creation, God rested on the seventh day.

Have you noticed how in these summer months, things tend to slow down a bit? We may spend more time on the deck or patio grilling out, or we may cancel our evening meetings because people are traveling to see their families.

Slowing down is an important part of our human experience. God made it so from the very beginning.

We humans often have a hard time observing the Sabbath, though – at least I know I do!

Sometimes, we make rules about relaxation or we overschedule our rest time, which really means we’re still controlling, still working – and it sort of defeats the whole purpose.

“I’m going to the cookout for 60 minutes, then I’m going to the graduation party for 45 minutes, then we’re all going to enjoy miniature golf this afternoon, then we’re all going to Grandma’s house for dinner.”

What can you do in this “Saturday” of the year – the next few weeks – to be kind to yourself and to give yourself a chance to rest?

You probably still have to work, and you probably can’t really control that, but what can you do to “unschedule” the rest of your time?

A Collect for Saturdays

O God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.(BCP 99)

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Sabbath Manifesto

For some quick ideas about observing Sabbath time, check out the Sabbath Manifesto, whose “cell phone sleeping bag” is pictured above. The Sabbath Manifesto promotes ten principles for a weekly day of rest, starting with “Avoid Technology.”

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Holy Innocents

Photo by REUTERS

Photo by REUTERS

A Song of Creation (Canticle 12 – BCP 88)
Appointed for use on Saturday mornings

Glorify the Lord, all you works of the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Did the government agents knock down the doors in Bethlehem early on a Sabbath morning, when they knew families would be at home?

Glorify the Lord, O beasts of the wild, *
and all you flocks and herds.
O men and women everywhere, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Did the soldiers kill children indiscriminately — under two years? over two years? After all, as crusading abbot Arnaud Almaric said 12 centuries later, “kill them all; for the Lord knoweth them that are his!”

Let the people of God glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O priests and servants of the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Did the next-door neighbors hear anything? Did families with older children or elders with no children at home comfort themselves with the thought that if the police came to their houses, those other families must have done something wrong?

Glorify the Lord, O spirits and souls of the righteous, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
You that are holy and humble of heart, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Do we shut our ears to the cries of mothers whose innocent children are killed? Do we draw away when our neighbors are visited by the police? Do we comfort ourselves with the thought that at least we’ve done nothing wrong?

Holy Innocents

We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 238)

Putting away all earthly anxieties

Sabbath Manifesto

A Collect for Saturdays

O God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 99)

Today, apparently, is the National Day of Unplugging sponsored by the Sabbath Manifesto, whose “cell phone sleeping bag” is pictured above. The Sabbath Manifesto promotes ten principles for a weekly day of rest, starting with “Avoid Technology.”

Sunday — even though some Christians refer to it as the Sabbath — is pretty much a work day for me, starting at 7 am with preparations for the 8 am service at St. Thomas and ending after our Education for Ministry session wraps up around 2:30 pm. That means Saturday bears the brunt of weekend tasks.

I don’t know about you, but I have nine things on my to-do list for today, and five of them will require me to be on the web or pulling together a presentation or writing something (this blog post is one, so that will leave four more).

If I’m honest with myself, though, only one item on my list actually requires me to use the computer. Gotta fill out the expense reports for work so I’ll get reimbursed! The rest I could actually do more quietly, by reading and writing and thinking.

And if I’m really honest with myself, I could have done my expense reports on Thursday night at the hotel.

It’s the whole “putting away all earthly anxieties” thing that’s really tough, isn’t it? If we’re not anxious about something, we worry that we’re slacking. If we’re not connected, we worry that we’re missing something. If we can’t stare at the shiny screen, we’re anxious that we won’t know how to amuse ourselves.

One of my first bosses is an excellent writer, especially gifted at writing personal thank-you notes. One of his idiosyncracies is to use the word “eager” instead of the word “anxious.” Try it yourself sometime, as I have done for years now, and you’ll see a subtle difference.

Rather than being anxious, why not be eager? Why not put away your anxieties and give your eagerness a chance to play, at least one day a week?

I’m going to try it today. Seriously, right after I finish my expense report.