The importance of rest

Sabbath Sunday 2019

 And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3)

When our son was born Maria and I worked hard to be responsible parents, and we tried our best to step in first whenever he cried out with a need. When he cried out with hunger, we were right there to feed him. When he cried for diapers, we were right there to change him. When he cried for presence, we were right there to hold him. And when cried out for comfort, we were right there to soothe him.

Indeed, we worked hard at being responsible parents, but instead of praising our noble efforts a nurse came by and told us this:

What your child needs the most is not parents who do everything. What your child needs the most is parents who know how to rest.

George MacDonald once wrote that there are times where we all need idleness, or moments in life where we simply do nothing and put aside our quests for work. Of course, we all have responsibilities and things that must be done, but we also need to simply rest and step back from our labors. If you remember in Genesis, after the universe was created, God stepped back and rested and declared that everything He made was good. And later on, when Israel was given the Ten Commandments through Moses, God told them to remember the Sabbath or keep the seventh day as a day of rest.

So even God values idleness from time to time, and the purpose of stepping back is to enjoy the fruits of all our work. You see, without rest our labors lose their meaning, and the things we get from doing them become burdens instead of blessings. Without rest the places we live become buildings to maintain instead of homes. Without rest the foods we eat become things to consume instead of being savored. Without rest our relationships with others become surface-level instead of deep connections. And without rest our relationship with God becomes a thing for Sunday instead of daily life.

This week at All Souls we will have a time idleness, and on Sunday (November 17th) there will be no service with all the usual works we do. Like Israel long ago, we will use the day to worship through rest and enjoy the fruits which have grown through our labors as a fellowship in Jesus Christ. But above all, we will seek the Lord beyond the sanctuary and worship Him in ways beyond the liturgical practices we know and love. And as we seek the Lord and worship Him through things like taking a nap or going on a walk, I pray that we would offer thanks for and recapture the purpose of the works that He has blessed us with.

In our world, where things are fast-paced and one’s worth is determined by how they perform, the Church must not be a place of labor that only seeks to do things well. Our world needs a Church that truly knows how to rest, and invites all to be refreshed through the sacred joys of idleness.

Good Sabbath to you all and God bless!