Sabbath for nature in the time of coronavirus

We were able to visit the beach in Alabama last night. The governor relaxed orders on the beach, asking everyone to still be responsible in social distancing. Our family walked the shore of the Gulf at sunset.

The birds were feeding like crazy. We saw a lot of dolphins, baby sharks (just so THAT song gets stuck in your head like it has mine), sting rays, and more. Sea life is much closer to shore because the shore has been given a break. Nature has taken a sabbatical. It felt fresh.

In all our human grumbling and chafing and political posturing, have we rested?

I know I have twisted and squirmed and wrestled in this time. Yet, that walk at the shore calmed me. Nature had taken advantage of the sabbath rest. Have I?

Gulf Shore, Alabama

“If they stop they’ll die…”

A friend recommended the book The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero. It as a book influencing his life so he recommended it to me. I am grateful.

There is a chapter on Sabbath in the book that coincided with a podcast I finished on the same day. The podcast is an interview with A J Swoboda and it is well worth your time to listen.

Continue reading ““If they stop they’ll die…””

The Gift of Rest

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Ex. 20:8-11)

This isn’t about what “day” the Sabbath is “supposed” to be on. It is not about the specifics of how you “keep it holy.”

This is about trust. Sabbath is trust. The Lord provided a day of rest regularly for a slave nation. They had worked all their lives in every way possible. He then built in other “sabbaths” for them: the land to rest, debts to be settled, etc.

It was all about trust. Could they rely on provision of Yahweh, or did they think the world would stop turning if they didn’t take a day off? Could they trust Yahweh with what they did NOT do as well as what they DID do?

Is there a TRUST in the Father in your life? Or, are you there to “help God out?”


You bunch of Sabbath breakers!

John 5 gives us the story of the lame man healed at the Pool of Bethesda. The real problem the Jewish leadership had was… horrors! … Jesus healed on the SABBATH. 

They were so concerned about Sabbath breaking they missed the larger point of actually helping someone. 

Each of us, regardless of our theological leanings, have this temptation in us. We cut to the rules and find the rules we like to harp on and then we camp right there waiting for someone to trip over the rules, or our narrow theological definitions, or (place your issue here) and then we pounce.

For some theological circles, it’s upsetting if I hang out with homosexuals and call them my friends. For some theological/political circles, it is anathema that I mention Israel possibly doing something wrong in the current situation in Gaza.

For some, it’s upsetting to buy a sandwich at Chik-Fil-A, or buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or shop at Target…

In each case I could hear shouted out at me, “YOU SABBATH BREAKER!”

I have yelled it at times myself. It’s fun. It gets a lot of energy out. I feel a bit more superior… and RIGHT.

Which brings me to the point… and I do have one.

We are far more concerned (and I speak to “right,” “left,” or whatever stripe of theology you may bear) with being RIGHT than being RIGHTEOUS. We become consumed with winning the argument rather than being the apprentice to Jesus like we are called. We hesitate to help a Muslim or a homosexual or a Republican (I won’t let anyone off the hook. I’m an equal opportunity offender) because we fear someone wagging a religious finger at us and yelling, “SABBATH BREAKER!”

God help us to DO righteousness. To DO justice and to LOVE mercy! THEN we will know God!


Look to what SETS FREE

Jesus constantly challenged the bound up authority of religious rulers because he was there to demonstrate the rule of the KING. The inmates were trying to run the asylum, and that just never goes well.

We too often default to pretend spiritual formation, which drifts to legalism, because we can’t measure the heart. We don’t trust the Spirit to do the work.

Jesus would demonstrated the power of the King to overrule even the Sabbath if need to be to take care of people. If it was feeding people or, God forbid, HEALING people, the King could suspend the rules of the norm to bring transformative power.

We need to look to what sets people free IN CHRIST (which is a vitally important clause) rather than what binds them up to our little fiefdoms.

In this Lenten season, let us pray for the Spirit to set us FREE… not bind us up to new rules we make up.

The Freedom of Form

27Then he said, “The Sabbath was created for humans; humans weren’t created for the Sabbath. 28 This is why the Human One[b] is Lord even over the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28, CEB)

As western Christians who happen to be evangelical… Pentecostal… Charismatic… cutting edge… emergent… umm… I know I’m forgetting some label…

(We struggle with forms. It’s interesting that we struggle with forms and have no trouble with labels.)

In Mark 2 Jesus swings away at how the religious leaders were using forms. Yet, Jesus doesn’t throw out the forms. The goal is to understand what religious leaders were doing to the forms that were intended to set people free.

He swings away at fasting in 2:18-22. The religious leaders had turned fasting into a dreary obligation that had to be done at certain times in certain ways. Jesus didn’t get rid of fasting. He simply points out there are seasons for feasting and seasons for fasting.

There is a scene in the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance where Bagger is caddying for Rannulph Junuh and Junuh is feeling pretty good about his game. The ball is in a tough spot and Vance has an idea of which club to use. Junuh asks for another club, to which Bagger replies, “There’s a time to leave that club in the bag and there’s a time to take it out.”

That is the point of spiritual formation. There are disciplines to be used in our lives and what the Kingdom of God tries to teach us is when to use those tools for the greatest effectiveness in the Kingdom.

It’s the same with the Sabbath. The religious leaders had reduced the Sabbath to set rules of what to do. Yet, the Sabbath is important. We NEED Sabbath in our lives. If we try to push our bodies 24/7, we will break down and at some point our bodies will take a Sabbath for us!

The forms given to us are freedom. It is how we use those forms that determine whether we walk in freedom or bondage.

Don’t throw out fasting. Remember that you need Sabbath. Do so in the freedom and power of the Spirit.