Sunday, August 2, 2009

Home-Grown Ideas to Create a Sabbath Practice

Wise words and practical ideas from Trinity News readers and noted Sabbath authors. These are excerpts from the Sabbath edition of Trinity News (Wall Street, NYC).

Keep it Simple: Prayer Prayer is the most traditional of Sabbath keepers. Prayer practices the presence of God. It pays attention to God as part of life. Whether in grace before meals, or in morning and evening prayers, or in prayers for a specific purpose, prayer keeps Sabbath. It sets aside time for God in the midst of time for other purposes. It can be words of petition or praise, a breath, a sigh, or a laugh. — from Sabbath Keeping by Donna Schaper

Pick an Appliance, Any Appliance Sabbath can only begin if we close the factory, turn out the lights, turn off the computer, and withdraw from the concerns of the marketplace. Chose at least one heavily used appliance or device — the telephone, television, computer, washer/dryer — and don’t use it for a Sabbath period. Whether it is a morning, afternoon, or entire day, surrender to a quality of time when you will not be disturbed, seduced, or responsive to what our technologies have to offer. Notice how you respond to its absence. — from Sabbath by Wayne Muller

Different Focus I have been giving thought to the sunset time on Saturday as a reminder to begin to wind down from my pursuits and warm up to the idea of rest on Sunday. In reality, I do work on Sunday, but I have a completely different focus as I begin the day. I don’t rush, I do not complain, I do not worry. I am open to the Holy Spirit and remind myself that each person I meet may be needing a “rest” even more than I do. — Reader Tandy Maxfield, via e-mail

The Musician’s Sabbath When I come home at night, and even in the mornings, I never listen to music. I just like the silence. Because I compose and perform music for a living, I associate silence with rest. Maybe it’s just the sounds of the forest, or the beach (if you’re lucky enough to live near one). I hear silence as Sabbath. — Owen Burdick, organist and choirmaster, Trinity Church

Many of us don’t think much about Sabbath observances but keeping Sabbath is one way to slow down your life and listen to the still small word of God. If you have a Sabbath practice you would like to share, we will compile a list of St. Andrew’s parish Sabbath keepers for future publication.

Father Mark

The Bread of Life

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—That perches in the soul—And sings the tune without the words—And never stops—at all … (Emily Dickinson)

When I was a college freshman the campus where I lived was located very near a large bakery, Mrs. Baird’s, in north Dallas. Every night the enticing smell of fresh baked bread would drift across the campus and into every building and residence hall. On the nights when the aroma was particularly strong you could see scores of students walking up Mockingbird Lane to the company store to purchase the fresh bread. The out-of-town students who didn’t know where to go to buy the bread followed upperclassmen past the bars and package stores and hotels and resturants to Mrs. Baird’s. What drove them to make that long walk was the hope that the bread they sought would measure up to the smell that enticed them to make their journey.

Sometimes we become lost and trapped in the hope that our journey will measure up. We become enticed by other aromas that lead us in other directions, away from Christ. Maybe something else is perched in our souls and the song that it sings is not the tune of hope but of despair.

Hope is what Jesus gives us—the promise of new life in Christ and with God for all eternity. We look to him in the hope that this is all true—in the faith that God would have us believe in Jesus.

In order to believe in Jesus—in order to live in this world experiencing heaven on earth, heaven here and now, all the while waiting for the life yet to come—we eat the bread of life, symbolizing our belief in and devotion to Jesus.

Unlike those freshmen who followed upperclassmen to the bakery, it is Jesus who can give us the bread of life— spiritual life in this world and eternal life in the life yet to come. All we have to do is believe and serve God as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.

Father Mark