Reading: Genesis 2:1-3 and Matthew 11:27-30
Our readings in Genesis and the Gospel give us a description of God’s rest after a long creative work week and Jesus’ invitation to find our true rest in him. As you make space to consider and take to heart God’s Word, offer a silent prayer now asking for the grace to experience rejuvenation of body, soul and spirit from these quiet moments in God’s presence and his Word.
- From Gen.2:1-3, what do you discover about God and his value for rest (or literally in the original Hebrew: “to cease, to bring to a stand-still, to stop”)? It may help you process this passage by simply looking at the verbs in this narrative description of God.
- God values a regular rhythm of rest so much so he asked his people to continue the practice from week to week throughout all their generations (Ex.20:8-10). The Sabbath was given for us as a gift from God (Mark 2:27). Jesus calls himself the Lord of the Sabbath and practiced a regular rhythm of rest that often took the form of reading God’s word, worship and teaching in the synagogue, and caring for people. Without judgment or condemnation (Rom.8:1) think about the regular rhythms of your everyday life and weekly activities. What does Sabbath rest look like for you? In what ways is keeping a weekly rhythm of rest difficult for you? Consider the reasons why or what prevents you from taking a day to rest from work? When you do take a day to rest from your work week what benefits do you experience? Talk to God about these things.
- Marva Dawn in her book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, asserts that the spiritual practice of ceasing from work one day a week helps us detach from thecompulsive need to be productive, to derive worth and identity from our productivity, to control our lives and the outcomes for our lives, and the tyranny of keeping a schedule. Keeping a Sabbath day of rest helps us attach to God. The very practice recalls that we are finite; we have needs in body, soul and spirit that cannot be met by anything or anyone other than God himself, the source and sustenance of our lives. Even as God built into the body the need to sleep for several hours of each day for rejuvenation; so he’s established a regular way we can experience healing and restoration for our souls, spirits when we enjoy the gift of the Sabbath as we commune with him.
Listen to Jesus’ invitation in Matt.11:27-30. How do you want to respond to him today? How might you creatively practice Sabbath this week? Ask him for help if you struggle with Sabbath keeping.
The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend:
Is borne, preserved and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.
Your Sabbath, Lord, thus keeps us by
Your will, not ours. And it is fit
Our only choice should be to die
Into that rest, or out of it.
(Concluding stanzas of Wendell Berry’s poem Another Morning Sunday Comes)