Sabbath: An Exercise in Humility?

Some of my favorite parts of the Gospel story are actually the ones that get relatively little attention. In numerous places, Jesus and the disciples are walking along, praying, teaching, healing the throngs of people who follow them, then suddenly Jesus is gone. The disciples look around, their heads poking up above the crowds like periscopes, trying to see where Jesus has gone. Often Jesus has gone off by himself to pray, to be with his creator. At other times, Jesus takes the disciples away from the crowds for private teaching and rest.

Protestants, along with our famed work ethic like to read about Jesus’ work — the healing of the sick, the teaching to the crowd, the calling of and tending to the disciples. But, what about the way he modeled Sabbath? Jesus taught his disciples to rest and renew. In Wayne Muller’s book, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives, he asks why we are so afraid to simply be quiet and rest. “One of the seductions is the seduction is that our work is too good , too important, too useful to the world to stop even for a moment. There is no small amount of grandiosity in the presumption that somehow our work is so very important that the universe will not be able to manage without us for an hour, for a day.”

This weekend, I’m heading off to a Sabbath retreat for youth leaders, Christian educators and others who work to form the faith of others. Taking time for self renews us not just because we aren’t doing our normal work, it reminds us that God, and everything in creation, has got our back. There are others who can do the work for a while — maybe even permanently.

What are your practices of rest and renewal? How can you better incorporate Sabbath into your routine?

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