Tag Archives: spiritual discipline

Vacation For the Soul: Sabbath

I started a new sermon series today “Vacation for the Soul.” As a discipline I have pushed myself back to using the lectionary most Sundays. It connects me ecumenically to other Christians and it encourages me to wrestle with texts I might not always preach if given my own choice.

I also preach series, so I wanted to pay attention to what it means to feed and water the soul if you will this summer. Vacation! Summer time invites long evenings on the deck or porch or on the water. These moments during those long lingering days allow for enjoyment of family and friends.

It dawned on me that the spiritual practices or disciplines that are classic or traditional to our faith are mini vacations for the soul, time spent apart from our everyday life. In music it is the rest or the pause that create space for both the composer and musician to create something deep and moving. In Judeo-Christian history and tradition we call that moment, that pause, that time, Sabbath.

Now I am the first to admit I am terrible at keeping Sabbath. (here is a little secret for those who don’t know or haven’t caught on, I tend to preach to myself and if anyone overhears all the better!) Sunday, obviously is not a day of rest for me, but I claim Friday as my Sabbath. I have Jewish friends that as Friday evening descends, their televisions are unplugged, their phones and tablets are silenced or turned off or turned on to airplane mode. Their computers are turned off as well. They create and eat a meal together and either attend services Friday evening or Saturday morning. They walk, they talk, they read, they play board games with their children. They observe and keep the sabbath as honoring of God.

I actually on occasion turn off my phone, tablet and computer on Friday. More likely, I check my e-mails at least a couple of times, I might not answer them, but I know what is in my inbox. I usually try to avoid checking the news, but I am not always successful. I tend to see how much I can get done on “my day off.” Sabbath? Not usually.

Today in worship we heard again from Deuteronomy 5: “Observe the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.” In my sermon I noted that this was never to be a burden or a punishment but a gift from God. I quoted Abraham Joshua Heschel’s book The Sabbath (it is THE book on sabbath that every other book cites.) In it, he reminds us that in Genesis that God finished his work on the seventh day, in Exodus in six days God made the heavens and the earth. On the seventh God rested, but according to Heschel, creation was not yet finished. On the seventh day God created the Sabbath. “What was created on the seventh day? Tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose.”

Wow, what a gift we need today. Or maybeI need Sabbath peace, tranquility, rest and serenity. “The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time.” (Heschel)

For the next few weeks the study guide I write will include a spiritual practice each day. This week will focus on Sabbath moments. The study guide is linked above and available each week on our website or through our new church app. We will be gathering for prayer each week in our Chapel on Wednesdays. It will begin at 12:10 and be finished by 12:40. Lead by different people each week, they will invite us into practicing a different spiritual practice that we studied on Sunday.

If you would like to participate in the worship or listen to the sermon the link to Sunday’s service is here .  I believe that God longs for my presence and your presence. God is leaving the door open, the table set, the wine cup poured and misses us so much when we don’t take time to visit, to listen and to be blessed again by love and grace. We are the children of the Divine and we are being invited: “Come home, Come home, I am waiting for you my beloved child, I love you.”

“On the seventh day, You, O Lord, created rest, So that I, made in your image and through your love, might be made whole in the joy and the peace of your Sabbath gift.” (Doris P. Hand-Glock, alive now! July/Aughts 1989)  Amen and Amen.

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Your Comfort Zone

Today is the second day of Lent. I am blogging each of the forty days as one of my spiritual practices. I got the idea from the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd’s suggestion of forty things to give up for Lent. Instead of the usual chocolate or coffee or meat, giving up things that keep me from God seemed a good challenge. I wanted to share those here.

The second thing to give up for Lent was “your comfort zone.” Now I don’t know about you, but I like my comfort zone just fine, thank you very much. What does it mean to give up my comfort zone? Yet this is the task for day two of Lent.

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Moving out of my comfort zone challenges me to look at my life and my spirit and ask if my comfort zone is helping me grow? Is my comfort zone keeping me from becoming all God has created me to be? Traditionally, the first Sunday of Lent begins with story of Jesus’ temptations. In the gospel of Mark it says after Jesus has been baptized, “At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan.” (Mark 1: 12-13 Common English Bible, CEB)

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I wonder how hard it was for Jesus to get out of his comfort zone and hang out in the wilderness for forty days? At the river Jordan how wonderful it must have been to come out of the water and hear the voice of God claiming him as God’s beloved. In that moment, the Spirit goes from blessing Jesus, to forcing him to go where maybe he didn’t want to go.

Perhaps Jesus understood that he could not truly embrace his call, embrace his ministry unless he got outside his comfort zone. Jesus’ time in wilderness may have helped him see his weaknesses, his blind spots where he was most likely to be tempted. Facing those temptations strengthened him and it could only happen if he was willing to get out of what was comfortable.

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The same is true for me. If I am not willing to think new thoughts, go new directions, try new things and get out of my ruts or my comfort zone then I miss so much of life itself. I miss the possibility that I have not heard the still small voice of God that may challenge me to live differently or more deeply or more faithfully.

I don’t know about you, but I have many ruts. What if I drove a different way to work? Or read a different version of the Bible? Or what a different channel for the news or read a different news source? What if I listened harder and spoke less? What if I prayed, listening for God’s guidance and opening my heart more deeply to the Divine Spirit?

Today, I am going to get out of my comfort zone and open myself to the new possibilities that God has in store for me. With the love of God, I am graced to serve.

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