My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I pray this note finds you in the midst of, or planning, time for recreation and relaxation this summer. Such sabbath time is so essential to our wellbeing and our recollection that we are partners with God in this creative and generative process called life.
Irenaeus, a Bishop of Lyon during the second century, is attributed with saying, “The Glory of God is the human person fully alive.” I take “fully alive” to mean fully engaged with all aspects of one’s life: the physical, the spiritual, and the mental, and all to the glory of our Creator. Such full engagement in life, as God creates it, requires setting aside adequate time for all the facets of our busy lives, but with a bias toward our relationship with our Creator.
Sabbath time, honors our inclination toward God by giving us space to reorient ourselves away from day-to-day preoccupations and toward our primary relationship with our Creator. In honoring sabbath time this way we honor and strengthen every other relationship we have because the love shared in relationship with God nurtures every other relationship. In fact, with practice sabbath time that honors our relationship with our Creator generates within us a growing capacity to extend God’s love to more and more people, and this glorifies God, and this is the life “fully alive.”
But what does sabbath time look like? It can take any number of forms such as for example, a vacation, a temporary change of patterns at home, a retreat, a mission trip, going to summer camp, etc. Sabbath time is any break in the typical pattern of our life that sets aside time with our Creator as our priority so that we can reflect on how we are living our lives for God’s sake, and for the sake of others.
Sabbath time is absolutely essential if we are to grow into the “fully alive” people God created us to be; people who yearn to live out Jesus’ understanding of the Ten Commandments.
“ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” [Matthew 22:37-40]
As in these two commandments, when we walk with Jesus, he repeatedly challenges us and shows us what it looks like to be that person who is fully alive, that person who rethinks priorities, that person who reconsiders what cultural norms would look like if we were to put our Creator’s interests and those of our neighbors ahead of our own.
Now is a great time to make time and space for sabbath rest. All is required of us is desire to know our Creator and yearning to be “fully alive.” God will make such time and space holy.
In seeking sabbath rest, I am …
Yours in Christ’s Love,
We, the Council of Trustees, believe in and trust the God-given gifts that abide in the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. During this season of transition, we will not be fearful. Directed by the Spirit, together we joyfully walk with Jesus the road ahead. [Council of Trustees, February 1, 2017]