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Rector's Reflection for May 16, 2013

posted Jun 1, 2013, 6:59 PM by Terry Brady

[Sabbath] is not a day off to pursue whatever fancy is attainable and affordable. Rather, it is a day to restore eternity to our souls. God established Sabbath to accomplish a re-creation of eternity, a reminder of what is really real....Sabbath allows people to reflect on the promises they have made to God, to other people, and to themselves.....Putting off Sabbath means putting off life.

                                                                Reggie McNeal, A Work of Heart 


People have often asked me how I know when God is speaking. The truth is: I'm never absolutely positive when it's God talking. Most of the time, I can only make sense of Divine call in retrospect. I have learned, however, that when I hear the same message two or more times, from distinctly different sources, I need to pay attention (especially if it is a message I'm not interested in hearing).


In the past month, I have heard a message on the wisdom of establishing a regular Sabbath for myself from my Spiritual Director, from a colleague, from the new Sr. Warden, and finally from this book A Work of Heart (assigned reading for the Commission on Ministry from Bishop Mariann). I have discerned that it is time for me to pay attention.

Sabbath is difficult for me. Part of it has to do with my up-bringing; I grew up understanding that there is always work to be done. There were activities that my Grandmother forbade on Sunday (ironing, mowing, working in the garden), but there were no shortages of other things to do. For me, the notion was that a day of rest was great if you could afford it.


I am also hindered by how much I enjoy my work and how privileged I feel to do it. What could be better than having one's job be one's career, and one's career be one's vocation? I love what I do, which makes it hard for me to "not do" it ... ever.


Fortunately, the Holy Spirit's harassment of me in the last month (in the guises mentioned above) has offered me different ways to think of Sabbath:


1)  Sabbath is unplugging from the world and plugging into the Spirit.

2)  Sabbath is moving from preparation to contemplation; from action to evaluation.

3)  Sabbath is Missional; it is stepping back from our work to see God's work.

4)  Sabbath is time to tend your own fire so that it doesn't burn you up or burn itself out.


The truth of these observations rings loudly in my ears (which is another indicator that they may have divine origins), and as your priest, I recognize that I cannot encourage in you what I will not practice myself. Therefore I am choosing to listen and establish Friday as the Rector's Sabbath (when Friday is not possible, I will take Tuesday). Fear not! I will not leave you orphaned! Because Emily observes the Sabbath on Monday, one of us will be available to respond any pastoral needs that arise.


During my Sabbath observance I will make every effort to unplug from phone and email and to focus instead on developing my "listening prayer" skills. I hope to hold myself open to the Spirit: to receive what She provides, and to let go of what She would remove. I will spend my Sabbath seeking deeper communion with my Creator/Redeemer/Sustainer so that I can serve you more faithfully.