September is almost here. Kids are back in school. Sports, band, choir and other extracurricular activity schedules amp up. Labor Day brings the end of summer and we’re back to a “normal” routine. We’re off and running. In the church we resume regular Wednesday Night Alive soon, choir kicks off their season, Youth Group meets, and our church activity calendar fills up. Vacation season ends and we’re back to the busy grind.
Yet one of the themes that comes up time and again through Scripture is that of Rest. In the beginning God creates. God fills the earth with all kinds of vegetation, creatures and lastly God’s image-bearer, humans. Then as everything is about to be set in motion, God rests. Before creation begins the business of being fruitful and multiplying, the Creator and Sustainer takes a break.
In a way the narrative of Scripture can be told through the theme of rest. God himself rests with creation at the beginning. But soon God’s people find themselves slaves in Egypt. They are forced to work relentlessly. Their personal worth gets wrapped up in how much they are able to produce for Pharaoh. Then, after the exodus, God commands the people to live in new ways. God gives the people good news of rest in the form of one of the Ten Commandments. Elsewhere in The Law, God spells out a dramatic practice of Sabbath rest every seven years and then a society-reorienting rest called Jubilee.
In the New Testament Jesus proclaims the good news of rest. The people are no longer bound by laws of rest, but can truly receive rest as a gift. In fact, in Jesus we can find the only true rest. Total peace and quiet.
Jesus invites all of us who are worn out, struggling, exhausted to come and find rest in him. In following Jesus we can find a new way of living. We can be free to slow down and rest. We are freed to remember we are humanBEINGS, not humanDOINGS. God loves us because we are God’s creation, not because of what we have, or haven’t achieved.
As we jump back into the routine, busy schedules of fall, I invite you to join us in September as we learn more about Sabbath rest. Ready! Set! Slow.
Two great resources for your own further study of Sabbath and rest would be Sabbath as Resistance: Saying NO to the Culture of NOW by Walter Brueggemann and Subversive Sabbath: The Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World by A.J. Swaboda.