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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Today’s Reading | Exodus 31:12–17

The Lord said to Moses: You yourself are to speak to the Israelites: “You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, given in order that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it shall be cut off from among the people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the Israelites shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” (NRSV)      

At seminary orientation, our Vice President of Student Affairs, Jackie, strongly encouraged all of us to develop a sabbath practice. “Your life will be busy these next three years,” she told us. “Your Sundays will become work. Setting aside time to do something that renews you isn’t just a good idea. It will be crucial to your spiritual life as a pastor.” It didn’t really matter how we spent our Sabbath, only that we remembered it as a gift from God and not give up on it when life got busy.

We live in a frenetic world. Taking intentional time away is often equated with sacrifice or giving something up. There is always more to get done and more to accomplish. There always seems to be a more productive use of time than just resting and enjoying the life God has given us. And yet, even God took time to sit back and appreciate all that was good. It wasn’t as if God had run out of things to do, but rather than move on to whatever task needed doing, God made the crowning moment of creation a time to simply rest and bask in all that was good. If rest and appreciation are so important to God, surely they should be as important to us. Taking time to stop and appreciate life draws us closer to the God who gifted us with that life. It is more important than any task on our to-do list.

Even as I write this devotion, I’m realizing I’ve let my own commitment to sabbath slip as I’ve gotten busy in my first year of ministry. And I’m challenging myself now to reclaim time for rest and renewal. If sabbath time is missing from your life, will you challenge yourself to do the same? As I was told in seminary, “It isn’t just a good idea. It’s crucial to our spiritual life.”

Gracious God, you created this world and then took time to bask in its goodness. You gifted us with our lives. Please help us take time to rest and appreciate that gift and to bask in your goodness. Amen.

Written by Layton Williams, Pastoral Resident

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