I want to outline the four principles of Biblical Sabbath as found in the book: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazerro (pg165). In the context of todays readings that invite us to surrender to the will of God (meaning of the word Islam) or simply to put our trust in God in all things.
The four principles are: stop –rest-delight-contemplate. It is not so much practicing them for one day a week and doing the opposite for the other six; but living everyday by weaving them into all that we do.
1. Stop. Sabbath is first and foremost a day of stopping. To ‘stop’ is built into the literal meaning of the Hebrew word Sabbath.
The core spiritual issue in stopping revolves around trust. Will God take care of us and our concerns if we obey him by stopping to keep the Sabbath? It is about believing when I trust God and obey his commands he provides. In response to this I am offering seasonal quiet days, four afternoons of quiet reflection with scripture and an opportunity to share with others. The Autumn quiet day will be on the 16th October. Can these quiet afternoons become part of the rhythm of your spiritual life and growth?
2. Rest. Once we stop, the Sabbath calls us to rest. Intentionally wasting time with God; refraining from work, hurry, multi-tasking, worry, errands, technology; reorienting our God given time for creature play. And it can involve getting together with like-minded people. For example the Parish of Eggington socializes together every second month instead of a PCC meeting – and this is now becoming an important part of the rhythm of being a Parish community.
3. Delight. A third component to Biblical Sabbath revolves around delighting in what we have been given. Slowing down to pay attention to our food, the beauty of nature, cultivating all our senses so as to enhance our delight in all created things. The author quotes William Blake, ‘to see a world I a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower’. Most especially slowing down and paying attention to others, leaving lots of time for unexpected conversations with neighbours, family and strangers. I love asking the question ‘when was the last time you did something for the first time?’ On Friday I cooked poached eggs for the first time! Discovering and learning something new; nurturing our sense of pure fun in God is also part of the Sabbath.
4. Contemplate. The final quality of Biblical Sabbath is of course the contemplation of God. Pondering the Love of God remains the central focus of our Sabbaths. As Sunday is our Sabbath, it is a glimmer of what we hope for at the Heavenly Banquet. Our short earthly lives are put in perspective as we look forward to being in the fullness of the Kingdom, feasting in God’s perfect presence. So we do our part of being involved and participating in our Sunday services, singing in the choir, reading the word of God, bringing up the Gifts and Offerings, preparing the intercessions etc., making our service contemplative by the work and preparation that going into it beforehand.
Stopping, resting, delighting and contemplating are the four pillars of Sabbath that uphold our commitment to surrender to the Will of God; To Trust God to lead us into a deeper and richer life in the spirit.
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