Sabbath as Resistance
In the land of slavery the Israelites were forced to work 7 days a week, 30 days a month, 365 days a year. Through illness, through pregnancy, through exhaustion, they had become the source of financial stability to the Egyptian Pharaoh and after 400 years in slavery the body trauma inside the people of God didn’t know how to stop. So when God meets Moses on the mountain and declares in the 10 Commandments that to be his people meant to “Keep the Sabbath…” was a command that landed on the people as a gift. Stop working!! Stop slaving!! Stop and enjoy the creation and feed from my hand and rest.
Where do you need to rest today from work that is paid and work that is unpaid? How on the eve of possible evil can we put our trust in God to resist, not in the way of violence, but resist from striving? Make God your home today.
Lack of Vision – After the Israelites were set free there was a rabble that insurrected and tried to have Moses killed. They said, “We had it so good back in Egypt and we should just go back.” No, there is a part of us that can understand the traumatized brain that would go back to the chaos, back to the abuser because it’s all we know. However, there is another cowardly part of humanity that would rather sit making mud pies in a pigpen for we do not know the goodness of a holiday by the sea. Repent today for the times you have willfully stayed stuck rather than trampling on the curses done to you and declare the resurrection of Christ over today and tomorrow. Follow your head, who is Christ and trust that his vision for your life is better than anything you could imagine.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
– Matthew 11:28-30
We live in a “work hard, play hard” culture, where the need to do enough, do more, or be more is constant. But we cannot pour out what hasn’t already been poured in, and it is the act of running on empty as if we were full that leads to exhaustion and, eventually, burnout.
Consider what it would look like to rest from your work and work from your rest. You were created to bear the image of your God, who upon creating the world set aside time to rest. There is no need for guilt to be tied to your need for rest. You are a human being, not a human doing. So, what does rest look like for you today? What do you need right now? Rest your body. But also rest your mind, and rest your soul. It is He who fills you.
Put it to practice:
Take a moment to close your eyes. Sit still. Recognize your breath. Become aware of the filling and emptying of your lungs. Be at peace.
Continue to practice your breathing, but now also read the following text. Take your time.
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know that
Be still and know
Be still and
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:6-7
How do we find rest and peace in the midst of work and stress? Paul wrote the book of Phillippians while in prison and yet his work continued to touch people’s lives. Paul’s letters conveyed a deep sense of freedom and faith. Paul was a prisoner but he chose to live his freedom in prayer and devotion to Christ. His courage and strength was closely tied to his dependence on God. How can you find rest and peace in the Lord today? Carve out a time in prayer and silence and surrender your burdens before the cross.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
– Psalm 23
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
– Matthew 11:28-30
Music – There is true beauty in this world and music is one of the great sources of beauty. Turn off all music today and use that silence and awkward space to invoke the Holy Spirit of God on behalf of our nation. Fast from the beauty of music in the hope that by the Rivers of Babylon when others ask for a song, we’ll be able to sing. But not today.
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1973. Also published by Counterpoint Press in The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1999; The Mad Farmer Poems, 2008; New Collected Poems, 2012.
Dearest Father, we are tired. We are worn. In our difficulties and suffering, we fall into despair, continuing down the road of death rather than receiving the new life you set before us each day. We are sorry, Lord, for so often returning to the enemy abuser out of comfort for what we know. Help us to replace this habit, Lord, with a new habit where we run instead towards You, trusting the promise that you meet us with open arms like the prodigal son.
Come, Holy Spirit. And bring restoration – to our bodies, our minds, and our souls. Teach us to rest in your peace. And as we rest in You, fill us with your peace, wisdom, and life everlasting. We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.