In HOPE
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David Timms 

Issue 5.10

Ministry Resource

Lynne Baab has authored a recent book entitled Sabbath Keeping (IVP, 2005, 130 pages). Her reflections are intensely practical. She avoids legalistic prescriptions but challenges us to take a fresh look at our lifestyles. This is a refreshingly helpful little book.   

HOPE Happenings

Welcome to Mr. Mark Comeaux, our new Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. He arrived this past weekend and commenced serving at HOPE on Monday. He comes from 25 years service at Crossroads College in Minnesota, and will be a valuable addition to the team here.

 

Sabbath Rush

Dorothy Bass once wrote that the commandment to observe sabbath is the only one people brag about breaking. Sabbath rest has become sabbath rush, as we squeeze in errands, chores, house maintenance, and kids sports on our "day off."

 

We live every day at a frantic pace, trying to achieve and complete our lists. We may switch venues between home, work, and church - but the pace remains the same. We burn the candle at both ends, hoping to survive until the next vacation when we can unwind, but burnout catches all too many of us.

 

As Christians, how have we overlooked the biblical model of sabbath that encourages vacant time every week?

 

What is so compelling about relentless activity and constant motion? Why do so many of us feel guilty about rest and recreation? To paraphrase Jesus loosely, "The lists will always be with us."

 

Our incapacity to be still and our persistent drive to achieve or be productive, whittles away our humanity.

 

The Sabbath was formally instituted in the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20, the motivation for observing a sabbath rest was rooted in creation. God rested and made the day holy. In Deuteronomy 5, the reason for observing sabbath is grounded in freedom. The day of rest reminded the Jews that they were no longer enslaved to the brickyards and straw-pits of Egypt.

 

The sabbath link to creation and freedom is significant. God ordained through sabbath that we cease laboring long enough to be recreated (remember that old word "recreation"?) and freed.

 

Lynne Baab writes that the sabbath keeps us from being dehumanized. "We are human beings, yet we live as if we were 'human doings.'"

 

Christian leaders can be especially vulnerable to the rushed sabbath, which is no sabbath. Lay leaders may feel pressure to use any spare time to serve others and the church. Church staffers often feel an obligation to be on-call 24-7-365. Busyness has become our business. At every turn a new need arises, another crisis unfolds, another program needs staffing and planning. Yet, without the sabbath rest the well runs dry.

 

Ultimately, our effectiveness is more dependent on our emotional and spiritual health than our skill levels. Consequently, our internal well-being demands care.

 

What consitutes sabbath activities? Baab suggests anything you enjoy that does not have to be done or completed or produced. If our sabbath rest ends with disappointment that we didn't achieve more, we've worked. If we feel refreshed and freed from the tyranny of labor, we've honored our humanity as God intended. Ironically, then, the same activity may prove to be sabbatical for some and non-sabbatical for others. We may love gardening, while our friends may hate it!

 

May we give fresh attention to sabbath - not as Law - but as opportunity for re-creation and freedom. "The lists we will always have with us."

 

In HOPE -

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and his views are not necessarily those of the administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

For back issues of In HOPE, see http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/