A month ago, I retired from being a spiritual director on staff at a church. For the last 17 years, going to church has meant a combination of worship and work! In retirement, I find myself wondering what does Sabbath mean now? The word Sabbath means to cease. Cease what?
I remember Sundays as a child. Mom would get as much of Sunday’s dinner prepped as possible on Saturday night, so that in the morning she could put it in the oven before we left for church. When we got home, we had an already fixed meal for a noontime dinner. The afternoon was reading, playing games, music, walking, going for a ride. Supper was to an ice cream place for banana splits or sundaes in the summer or English muffins with peanut butter and cocoa for the rest of the year. I think we were expected to have homework done by Saturday night. We lived in Massachusetts and in the 40’s-60’s there were blue laws, so no shopping. We did stop. Yes, we went to church, but it was more than going to church.
Since then, after a brief period as a young adult of no church, Sabbath has meant going to church. But it didn’t mean stopping. We did yard work in the afternoon, sometimes went shopping, etc. I’m no longer going to the church where I was on staff. I haven’t even figured out if I want to go to church. So what does Sabbath mean now?
Christine Paintner said Sabbath is “a timeless time when we can simply be present to the gifts of the day.” If I am being present, then reaching out to others might be what happens. Going to church might be a part of the day – if that’s the gift of that day. Photography or writing might be what happens. I’m thinking that staying off the computer would help me more present to the gifts of the day. Perhaps a day that is not planned – to follow where the Spirit leads us. It might lead to a day such as my 5-year-old grandson would take me on!
It leads me to an interesting question – am I willing to go with the flow for a day? To stop my plans and see what the Spirit has in mind? Do we choose a specific day for Sabbath? I already find my mind saying but what about this activity, or that activity – do I give it up or change the day Sabbath lands on? How much am I willing to allow the holy spirit to lead me?
Holy Spirit, guide me along the paths you would have me go.
Help me to let go of my plans, to stop and listen.
To be present to the gifts you would offer me.