Sabbath Worship

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. 

Retreat! A Sabbath Worship Starter

Raise your hand if you're in ministry (staff or volunteer) and you're good at remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy?

While most of us do remember the Sabbath, those of us in ministry work pretty hard to create God experiences for other (which are God experiences more often than not for us as well).  My wife, Leanne Johnston, Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Central Texas Conference Center for Evangelism and Church Growth (Methodists are wordy ...) this weekend is offering a sabbath retreat for conference youth workers.  She asked me to plan worship for the occasion, which I, of course, jumped at.

The idea of the 24-hour or so period is to gather youth workers from across the conference to spend time together, in prayer, worship, and fellowship with one another.  It's an opportunity to share concerns and joys, and to bond over what's great and what's hard in youth ministry.

Here's the liturgy for the opening worship.  I'll cite sources and provide commentary as I go!  I invite you to use whatever part(s) you need.  Instrumentation for the retreat is acoustic guitar and percussion - and whatever anybody else brings to the table.

Liturgies for morning prayer and closing worship are coming!

Youth Worker’s Sabbath Retreat 2012
Friday Evening Worship:
We Lay Our Burdens Down

We Gather
Opening Song – Meet With Me  A great gathering song, by Ten Shekel Shirt
I'm here to meet with you
Come and meet with me
I'm here to find you
Reveal yourself to me

As I wait, you make me strong
As I love, draw me to your arms
As I stand and sing your praise, You Come
You come and fill this place
Won’t you come, and fill this place

Invocation: written for the occasion
Almighty and merciful God,
we come together tonight because we desire rest.
We need rest, and it’s hard to make the time.
But you set the example for us,
 after You created all of this beauty around us:
You rested, for a day.
Divine creator and healer, we need your help tonight, this weekend.
Come down and dwell in the midst of us during this time of rest,
Send us your Spirit, the Holy Comforter,
that we might find a measure of rest and peace, together. 
Passing the Peace
As you take your seat on the floor, we invite you to show one another signs of God’s healing, restful love and pass the Peace of Christ

Song – Blessed Be Your Name a worship standard by Matt Redman
Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow, blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name when I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness, blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name when the sun's shining down on me
When the world's  all as it should be blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering blessed be Your name

You give and take away, You give and take away
My heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name

Psalm 62:5-8
Evening Song – Can I Lie Here this song, by David Crowder is the theme for the weekend. It has a soothing quality that's wonderful for prayer.  It almost sings like a chant.
Can I lie here in Your arms; can I lie here in Your arms
My only calm is You save me

Can I lie here in Your arms; can I lie here in Your arms
My only thought is You save me

Can I lie here in Your arms; can I lie here in Your arms
My happiness is You save me

Oh how lovely this place, to be with You, to be with You
Oh the brightness of Your face, here with You, here with You

Oh my only calm is You, Oh my only thought is You
Oh my happiness is You, Oh my happiness is You
To be with You, to be with You
Gospel of Luke 5:12-16
Meditation – Sabbath Time Interrupted I'll provide the text later
We Lay Our Burdens Down A basin with water is at the center of the room, and all participants are given a piece of dissolving paper to participate in the focal point of this evenings service
What is keeping you from relaxing in the Lord this evening?  Are there barriers in your ministry that need to be laid down?  Write them on the paper provided and then dissolve them in the water as your pray for the Lord to intercede.  Take your time.
Closing Hymn:
Can I lie here in Your arms; can I lie here in Your arms
My only calm is You save me

Oh how lovely this place, to be with You, to be with You
Oh the brightness of Your face, here with You, here with You

Oh my only calm is You, Oh my only thought is You
Oh my happiness is You, Oh my happiness is You
To be with You, to be with You