Tuesday, June 21, 2022

How do I Sabbath?

 We all experience the rise in prices for goods and services. Many of us have experienced the lack of service workers at places like hotels or restaurants. As we continue to live through a pandemic we also have experienced the complete exhaustion it takes just to navigate our normal days. The economic ship that pushes us along does not care. It does not care about health or honor or rest. It only needs MORE!

The Jewish idea of Sabbath says no to the above timeline. Where the economy of our lives insists on a linear, unbroken timeline, God gifts to us AND commands us to break that timeline with Sabbath. As Patrick D. Miller writes in his book Deuteronomy:

So in [Deuteronomy chapter 15] about sabbatical release--and in all similar words in Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and the prophets--one encounters a principle that builds into the relentless movement and burdens of human existence regular times for release and recouping, for freeing from the chains and burdens that bind members of the community, especially to provide equity and opportunity for those members of the community who in varying degrees do not have it.

This release is Sabbath. In both our personal lives and in our community the way to break the cycles of injustice is Sabbath. One example of this is the great cod fishery of the Grand Banks in the Atlantic ocean. It was thought of as one of the most productive fisheries in the 19th and 20th centuries. But in the 1980's there was a total collapse. The decision was made to put a moratorium on fishing the Grand Banks. A sabbatical if you will. Ten years later the fishery rebounded. The linear economic engine had to be stopped.

We need to discover ways to get through to our culture the need for real sabbath practice in our economy for the sake of the health and welfare of all. Many countries have embraced this in varying ways: mandatory vacation, free health care, parental leave and free educations. These all break through the linear economy to break cycles of oppression and poverty.

In the meantime, what can we do? Well, we can start by practicing Sabbath principles for ourselves.

The question I have often been asked is "How do I practice Sabbath?" I have to be honest that I often have given pretty lame answers to this question. But to put this idea into practice in our personal lives will also lead us to see how it can be practiced in bigger ways to honor our neighbor and our earth. Below is a Sabbath Manifesto:

Avoid Technology
Connect with loved ones
Nurture your health
Get outside
Avoid commerce
Light Candles
Drink wine
Eat bread
Find silence
Give back

I encourage you to try taking three or four of theses principles on to practice Sabbath. I think just hiking in the woods for several hours would nock off several of them. As your pastor, I long for you to have good physical health, but also, a healthy relationship with an economy that does not care.

Then Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren't made to serve the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)