Reverend Dr. Dawn M. Conti

 

From The Pastor:

 GIVE IT A REST!

After studying soldiers work patterns, the army discovered that after seven consecutive days of hard work the soldiers performance dropped, without them realizing it. Likewise participants in another study shared on a 60 Minutes episode were unaware that their performance suffered when sleep deprived. Brain scans of the test subjects proved there was a disconnect be-tween the emotional centers of the brain and the part of the brain that controls rational thought and decision making resulting in moodiness and emotional outburst not seen in well rested people.

When we get too little rest and work day in and day out for weeks and months on end, our performance, memory and relationship ability all drop; we become emotionally burned out. The occasional day off doesn’t seem to help because we often use them to catch up on everything we’ve let slide in our personal lives. It’s no wonder we’re pooped.

God never intended us to live this way. In the Old Testament, when God gave Moses the 10 commandments, the Lord said, “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. (Exodus 20:9-11). God’s word also teaches in Lev 25, that every seventh year should be a Sabbath year: “Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be Sabbath of complete rest . . . “

The Sabbath commandment is the longest of the 10. It’s almost as if the Lord went into detail so that we would be sure to get it right! Just as piece of equipment comes with an instruction manual, our Creator gives us instructions on taking care of ourselves as well.

But rather than taking this commandment seriously, we often brag and complain about how busy, how overworked, and how stressed out we are. Sadly often our self-worth can become caught up in how much we can produce rather than to whom we belong. I’m as guilty as anyone else. All pastors in our Presbytery have an extended Sabbath built in our call packages. After serving for seven years, we are to take a three month sabbatical. It’s year 13 for me at Kanapaha and I’m finally going on my first sabbatical in August. Observing Sabbath is a reminder that we are loved because we are God’s children, not for what we can accomplish.

The word “Sabbath” in Hebrew means rest. The heart of Sabbath is that we stop working so that we can rest and delight in God’s good gifts. When God rested on the seventh day, it wasn’t because God was tired; the Lord stopped to delight in the creation. Sabbath gives us time to slow down and delight in what we’ve accomplished over the last week and in the blessings God has shared with us.

Observing the Sabbath means carving out time for reflection.  In the book of Psalms, David says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Reflection includes examining our lives, our goals, our priorities. It’s a chance for us to think about the week behind and the week ahead. It’s a chance to give serious consideration our lives.

Finally, Sabbath is a time for renewal. Christians have observed the Sabbath on Sunday since 312 AD when Constantine declared Sunday as the official day of rest, In the early church, Sunday came to symbolize renewal because of its connection to the Resurrection. Our Sunday should be a chance for us to experience renewal as well. The best way is by attending church. The songs (hymns), the prayers, the scripture, and the preaching should lead us into closer fellowship with God. The time spent in church is less than 1% of your week, but it is often the most important hour of your life in any given seven day period.

The spiritual discipline of practicing Sabbath offers us sanctuary in the midst of our busy and often hectic lives. It is one of God’s good gifts. If God commanded it, who are we to argue? I intend to use it wisely and invite you to do the same.

 

In the bond of faith,

Pastor Dawn