One of the things I am most grateful for about the process of the 3-day meeting that I am attending is the schedule. We gather from 9AM to 4PM with a 20-minute break in the morning and the same in the afternoon, as well as an hour for the noon-day meal. There is little possibility that we will complete our agenda but, as our charge has a goal of total completion in mid-2017, we are not anxious about the progress. Since most of us were experiencing some level of jetlag yesterday (perhaps continuing today) and because the mental energy expended is considerable, this schedule seems a wise way to proceed. I have had a number of conversations already about the busyness of our “normal lives” and how difficult it is to find “time off” on a regular basis.
This morning at the beginning of chapter 6 of Luke’s gospel, we find the disciples of Jesus walking through a field on the Sabbath. Because they are hungry, they begin to pick the grain and are immediately criticized by the Pharisees (Where did they come from??) for breaking a Sabbath law about such a “work” task. Jesus responds with the example of David entering the temple and taking the bread reserved for the priests to speak to the necessity of doing what is necessary when circumstances warrant it. The goal of Sabbath rest was and is always to take time to remember God, giving thanks for our lives, and to connect with the deepest part of ourselves. That can take many forms, some of which might be a necessary letting go of perfection because of lack of time or ability to complete a task. Other times we may be called to do something out of the ordinary, perhaps what seems selfish, in order to get out of our minds and into our hearts – taking care of our “being” which is in need of rest.
In a multicultural society such as ours in the United States it is impossible to designate a “Sabbath Day” – or even a common hour – so we need to make a personal decision about how we will achieve such a time of renewal on a regular basis. Today is a good day to wake up to the possibility – and the necessity – of slowing down enough to hear God’s call to us. It starts with a deep breath…