Monday, August 20, 2012

Meditation: Sabbath Interrupted

I'm not a preacher, but lately I've found myself wanting to test those boundaries in myself.  When my wife asked me to plan and lead the worship services for a youth worker sabbath, I jumped at the opportunity to write the liturgies.  But then I thought: who's going to speak?

I'm not one who believes that a sermon is always necessary.  We've all been in many worshipful services that didn't require a sermon, and this retreat didn't require one at any specific moment.  With our evening worship service, our opening worship, we needed an opportunity to set the stage for the weekend, and justify to these workers spending their time relaxing with one another.

They needed to know, not only isn't ok, but it's also necessary as Christians to take some time and retreat.  Here's the meditation I wrote to get us started on our way.

First, read Luke 5:12-16, then ask yourself as you read: how do I make room in my own life to rest in the Lord?  How do I rest by myself?  How do I rest with my family?

Sabbath Interrupted
There’s no rest for the weary – and yes those of us in ministry are often among the weary.  Kingdom building is no easy task and those of us here have chosen to give much of our time – either professionally or as a dedicated volunteers – to building that kingdom through building relationships with the youth of our faith families.
The Sabbath has traditionally been a day of rest for God’s people … A day to relax, a day to worship; a day, for Christians, set aside to reflect on the Resurrection.
Recently, however it’s grown.  Pastors, worship leaders, children’s and youth ministers, a crazy lot of volunteers WORK to make a restful Sabbath happen for God’s people.  And we work really hard, don’t we, to help others rest, relax, sing, pray, dance, study, play games, swim, go to ball games, eat … Prayerful worship, bonding activities for youth and their families take a lot of time and effort – on the day of Sabbath rest.
We do try and rest.  Maybe on Saturday, maybe during the week.  But how many of you have cell numbers that are public knowledge?  How many of you have facebook and twitter accounts with group pages for your youth that light up at all hours with prayer concerns and joys?  We also better be careful not to miss every youth concert or ball game.  And we truly don’t want to miss a thing … We who are called to be “Little Christs” are trying to make other “Little Christs” that will go out into the world and make more.  Making disciples can easily be a 24/7/365 business.
Christ wasn’t always the best Jew … It was a common complaint amongst the scribes and Pharisees.  I mean, his job was healing and teaching right?  Heaven forbid he put those gifts on display on the Sabbath!  I’m sure he wanted very much to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy … But hurt and disease don’t own calendars.  We can’t type in to our Google Calendars – “I’d like a day off from hurt people every Saturday.” 
It was Christ’s calling to heal us, and he didn’t turn anyone away.  But we do find him often trying to sneak off and pray.  Spend time alone with his Father.
At the end of our scripture passage, that’s exactly what he’s doing.  After he healed the leper, after the crowds of hurt people dispersed, he would “withdraw to deserted places and pray.”
We know that that approach – a personal Sabbath Time, if not a day, didn’t always work for Christ.  Just before our lesson for this evening, in Luke 4:42, we see Christ trying to get away to regroup, and the people searched for him, found him, and demanded of him.
I suppose a lesson here for us would be is that if our phones are lighting up right now with the good news and bad news of our children and youth, we’ve probably done something right along the way.  We’ve modeled Christ in some form, and the people call on us out of need.  That’s not a bad thing – it means we’re doing good work as Ministers for Christ.
But every once in a while, like Christ did, and like the ancient Jews wisely knew, we need to put a fence up around a block of time and give it over to rest that we so need.
Didn’t God take a day to rest after six days of creating the heavens and the earth?  When we don’t take a little time to rest, we’re saying we know better than God.
But better yet – when we take time to intentionally rest – we’re actually Glorifying God.  I mean, it is a commandment after all.
So let us together, this evening, and tomorrow morning, as we are able, take this time together and rejoice.  We have time to rest.  We can glorify God through rest.