Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Mark 2:27 (NRSV)
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath.”
One of the truly classic episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” is called: The Sermon For Today. A traveling preacher from a big city delivers a sermon at Mayberry’s All Soul's Church encouraging the members to slow down and enjoy life. He encourages the folks to remember the simpler pleasures of the past when folks would leisurely gather together for a concert in the park. The people of Mayberry respond by working themselves into a frenzy to put on a “relaxing” band concert that gets canceled because after hours of preparation the band wasn’t ready, the uniforms were tattered and full of mildew, and the bandstand collapsed after Gomer tried to kill a spider with a hammer. You get the picture.
What I appreciate most about the episode is that it reminds me why I love the show. It takes me to Mayberry, a place that is usually simpler, slower, and filled with community love and goodness. (And their sanctuary was full). I think each of us longs for a place like Mayberry. And I know that we long for some Sabbath time.
Jesus responded to the Pharisees who were questioning why he was working on the Sabbath: "The Sabbath is made for human beings, not human beings for the Sabbath." The commandment to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy is not to add to our plates other religious requirements and obligations. It is about restoring and healing human life. It is to help us take time, and make time to be holy.
It’s not so easy to relax and let be. The busier we are, the harder it becomes for us to see all that God is doing in our lives and the world around us. We in the church complain that there are too many other things that are going on during “our” Sundays. I have to confess that I do a lot of those other things on Sundays too. So how can we truly honor the Sabbath?
Barbara Brown Taylor advises that, “Most people I know want to talk about why it is impossible for them to practice Sabbath, which is an interesting spiritual exercise in itself. If you want to try it, then make two lists on one piece of paper. On one side of the paper, list all of the things you know give you life that you never take time to do. Then, on the other side, make a list of all the reasons why you think it is impossible for you to do those things. That is all there is to it. Just make the two lists, and keep the piece of paper where you can see it.”
I am going to try that! It will be helpful to remind myself of those things that really give me life. And to practice making those things a priority.
Gracious God, We acknowledge that we are too busy, and we are busy with many things that should not be part of our schedules. Forgive us. Help us to create time to be silent, to be still, and to hear your still, small voice. Help us to stop working long enough to appreciate the joy and beauty of all creation.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.