After a year of too much staying at home, many are now experiencing the “go, go, go.” We are eager to resume dining out, gatherings with friends, travel, in person work, working out at the gym. Today I saw the cashier at my favorite new bakery and I said “I’ve never seen your face.” And she smiled and showed me her pretty new teeth, fresh out of braces! It’s fun to re-engage in face to face connections with friends and strangers. Maybe we feel the urge to do too much. Or maybe we feel exhausted from navigating all the challenges of the past year.

So I thought this would be a good time for me to remind us that the Bible calls us to “rest” And summer seems like a good time to remember that God invites, no God commands, that we rest at least 1/7th of the time. One of the 10 commandments is to “keep the sabbath” and that means taking a break from work. The Bible gives two reasons for this rest. One is because God rested on the seventh day. If the creator of the universe needed a rest, then we who are created in God’s image also need to take a breather, sit back, put our feet up and marvel at the goodness and beauty of life. The second reason we are called to rest is so that we can remember that our ancestors were slaves in Egypt. That seems like an odd reason. But the point is that God has set us free. And rest is one way to savor our freedom. We don’t have to work all the time.

Now that many are vaccinated, we too feel set free. The Jewish mystic Abraham Heshcel described the sabbath as a “palace in time.”  When we rest we reconnect with God and renew our souls. We discover again how good and precious life is. The art of keeping the sabbath may take many different forms. You can rest on a sailboat, a golf course, a walk through the Loose Park rose garden, an ice tea on the back porch with a neighbor, a hike in the woods, an afternoon at the swimming pool. And every Sunday we gather again to pause from the work of life to simply sit in God’s presence. Through music and the breaking of the bread, through prayers and spoken words, we marvel at the goodness of life.

Biblical scholar Walter Bruemmeman writes “Sabbath is not simply the pause that refreshes. It is the pause that transforms.” As we transition back into what feels more like “normal time” this gift of the sabbath becomes precious and vital.

Grace and Peace,