Learning to Cease

I’m getting ready for Winter Camp this weekend with my new church. I LOVE camp. I love the moment when a teen gets “it.” When something clicks for them and they understand how loved they are by God.

I love when they see who they are and who they were made to be in the world. When they see themselves as participants, co-conspirators in the story of redemption that God is telling in the world. I love when a student sees their next step towards Jesus and has adults and a life group ready to take that step with them.

On my Sabbath this week I was reflecting that I also love camp because it’s a moment where we are still.

Growing up, my hoarder of a Grandma had over 100 snow globes. When she wasn’t looking I would grab as many as I could and shake them as hard as possible. I’d watch gleefully as the white pellets would soar and bounce off the inside of the glass. After a few moments of not shaking, the pellets would resettle back to the bottom and you could see the figurine or picture inside the snow globe.

Our lives are similar to that snow globe.

For many people a weekend at camp is a time where the things that fill their time stop being shaken long enough that they can see what is actually going on in their lives.

I believe that our sabbath, our rest, was meant to be a space where the snow globe of our lives stops shaking. A sabbath is rest and worship. It is a break from all of the cycles of consumerism and busyness that invades our life.

The sabbath is a day when God has my rapt attention. It’s a day when I’m fully available to my family and friends. The sabbath is a day with no to-do list. It’s a day when I don’t accomplish anything, and I don’t feel guilty. It’s a day when my email is closed. The sabbath isn’t a day to buy or sell – to get more. It’s a day to enjoy what I already have. Sabbath is a day where I remember I do not have to earn my God’s love.

That sounds great, right? But why live an intentional rhythm of sabbath?

In Scripture, we have a few commands and references for sabbath.

2 Scriptural Commands on Sabbath

1) Genesis 2:1-3 “…God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.”When finished with the work of creating all things, God rested. GOD rested.

 God, the creator of all things, found it fitting to rest. If we, as people made in God’s image, are meant to mirror and mimic what God is like to the world then when God rests – we rest.

Bless is translated barak in Hebrew. God blesses the living creatures, humanity, and a day. Just as humanity was instructed to be fruitful and multiply, the inclusion of the sabbath in that blessing tells us that sabbath is meant to be life-giving.

First-century rabbis made a big deal of the principle of “first mention” in the Torah. The way a word is used the first time becomes the definition it holds. Time is the first thing that God makes holy. Consider this, every major world religion has a space that is holy. A space where they go to worship and celebrate their god.

We have time. Time is our cathedral.

Time is our living act of worship to honor God. With our time we recognize God’s worth in our lives.

Our shared goal in sabbath is to savor every second. Because it’s holy. Is this how you think of holiness?

2) Deuteronomy 5:12-15

“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy…Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the LORD your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day. 

In Deuteronomy Moses shares that sabbath is a day to remember you are no longer slaves to Egypt. A day to remember you aren’t driven by Pharaoh and his ways. 

Sabbath is active defiance against the system that says we need to get more, be more, and do more.

Sabbath is a celebration that we are not bound to the Pharaohs of our day.

I’ve never seen men make bricks or have their value counted by the amount they contributed to an empire. However, I have seen people worship the Pharaohs of our day: systemic consumerism, systemic capitalism, and busyness.

Sabbath is a radical way of living where we say no to systems and say yes to our identity as freed Children of God.

So, my youth worker friends, my prayer for us (because I need this as much as you) is that we will have the courage to stop shaking.

May we be a force of active defiance against Pharaoh.

May we remember our mission to let time be holy as worship to a holy God.

May the snow pellets of your life be still.

 May we remember that the snow globe needs to not shake for a little while so that you can see what you’ve got inside.