Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, Exodus 20: 8-10a
It was during this month’s 9.00am ‘Communion’ service that these words kept going through my head: ‘Oh Sabbath rest by Galilee’ from the hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind which was played at the start. The beauty of the words of the service combined with the feeling of peace this hymn gives me made this Sunday morning very special. It also set me thinking about the whole idea of the Sabbath being different, a day set apart from others. I wonder how many of us now really observe this tradition. We may go to church - either virtually at present or bodily in normal times - but that apart in this culture of 24/7 business is Sunday really so different from any other day?
During this period of lockdown one day seems to drift into another with very little sense of shape or rhythm. James and I have become particularly aware of the need to make Sundays different. Attending the online church services is one thing but we are also trying make it special in other ways, setting aside the routine tasks and projects we have been involved in during the week, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company, contacting family and friends, having a celebration meal in the evening.
God’s wisdom in creating rhythms for life was apparent right from the start as he separated night from day. I became acutely aware of the need to have structure to each day when I was suffering from severe clinical depression. But I think having a pattern for each day and then the week is important in coping with any difficult situation. It is a well-established practice in the monastic tradition. If you have not already done so why not make a plan for your lockdown days so they have a shape and then break the mould to make Sunday different in whatever way is appropriate to your situation whether living alone or with others? In particular make it a time to be aware of God’s gifts and the blessing of the ordinary things of life.
Dear Lord, we thank you for the many good things you have given us, the food we eat, the water for refreshment and cleansing, the beauty of birds, trees and flowers, our relationships with other human beings. And above all for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins and to show us the way we ought to live.
That God would help us all to make space for Sabbath rest in our lives.