Category Archives: Sabbath

Relaxation and God

A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, ‘Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.’ So he did. The old man then said, ‘Shoot another,’ and he did so. Then the old man said, ‘Shoot yet again and the hunter replied ‘If I bend my bow so much I will break it.’ Then the old man to him, ‘It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs.’ When he heard these words “the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.

——Abba Anthony

It is a novel thought for most people that relaxation and rest are an important part of life. The average American works 11 hours more per week that they did in 1970. That is a somewhat startling little fact. I wonder how much more we are really accomplishing than we were forty seven years ago. Without a doubt the rise in use of pain killers, sleeping pills and people who suffer depression are linked to our lack of rest. The number of prescriptions for sleeping pills alone, grew 30 times over between 1994 and 2007. Hospitalization for clinical depression has been on the rise since 1975.

Why is this happening?

The wise man of the desert pointed this out to the hunter, and it changed the hunter’s life. We need to rediscover the value of rest, and to acknowledge that it is necessary for physical and spiritual wellbeing. God knew this when  He gave us the Sabbath. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. The Hebrew word Sabbath literally means “to cease.” Just as God rested from His creation work, we are to rest from our day-to-day occupations and refocus on what’s really important. It’s a day to push the reset button. Anthony and God were on the same page here. All of us need to “relax the bow” before it snaps.

Plan a personal SABBATH, you need it!


Prayer

Lord give me that courage to pause. The world threatens me if I dare to think that I can take time to renew my body and my faith. Long ago you gave us the command to do so. Too often we see your commands as chores rather than pathways to blessings. Help us to see the bright pathway that is illuminated by Sabbath rest.

Amen

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What is the Sabbath?

Sabbath 2When I was growing up I was taught that Sunday was the Christian Sabbath. I really didn’t know exactly what that meant, nor did I know anyone who was not Christian. All I knew about the Sabbath is it was the day that we went to church. Over the years I have come to understand that Sabbath is so much more. A rabbi explained the Sabbath to a group of Christians touring the Holy Land in this way – “The Talmud,” he said, “gives us three reasons for keeping the Sabbath.”

“The first reason for Sabbath,” he went on, “is that given the fact that no one is permitted to do anything on Shabbat, no orders could be given, no work done. Therefore, the slaves and the rich would be equal for at least one day a week.”

“The second reason is that we have time to reflect on the meaning of our lives.”

“The third reason for Sabbath is that we can reflect on the goodness of our work as God did on creation on the seventh day.”

Sabbath means rest, but everyone rests, not just the holy people or the privileged ones. The Sabbath is the “great equalizer” that joins all of God’s creation together. Our world is divided is such a way that cries out for something, anything that brings us together. I would be comforted to know everyone is resting regardless of their station in life.

Do you know the meaning of your life? My meaning changes with each task or role that is sent my way. Sabbath rest is a time to focus on the central reason for your existence. Perhaps if we all took the time to reflect in such a way, we would suddenly find that God gives us great peace.

So many of us see ourselves and the world as being self-made. Sabbath says stop and acknowledge your own powerlessness in view of God’s creation. The world could be a so much better place if we would take the time to acknowledge it as God’s creation.Prayer group

The “Christian Sabbath” is just another myth made up by church leaders to make sure you are attending church services. Let’s take a step back from that and observe Sabbath as it was meant to be observed. Try to create for yourself a time when you stop and become one with all of God’s creation and praise Him for who he is to you. In such a time, you may want to attend worship.

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