For some time now, I have been exploring Sabbath. What I mean is that I’ve been reading and meditating on what Sabbath is supposed to be, asking myself, “what does God hope to achieve with Sabbath?” I’ve long wrestled with the relationship between priest (pastor) and Sabbath.
5Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? (Matthew 12:5)
God’s call on the priesthood is to do the work of a priest on the Sabbath. Considering the strict Hebrew sensibilities concerning Sabbath, it seems to be quite a privilege to work on the Sabbath. I remember the first time I was asked to publicly pray during a church service – I was a young married father. At once, my fear of public speaking produced an elevated heart rate, and hyper-ventilating. But something else was there too – I was honored to be asked to be part of the Sabbath work – extremely honored. The feeling reminded me of running my toy lawnmower beside my dad as he pushed the real mower. It is an honor to be part of the Sabbath work – even as the lead Pastor, I still feel this way.
27Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
Without getting into the minutia of Sabbath theology, I’ve come to believe that while we priests (pastors) are innocent of desecrating the Sabbath by doing our priestly work, we are in real danger of failing to honor the Sabbath – honor the purpose of Sabbath. While the work of Sabbath is valuable to me, as a bi-vocational pastor (which means I work outside the church as well), I find that I need to experience the rest of Sabbath as much as anyone else. Rest is what the Sabbath is for.
If you do a biblical survey of Sabbath, you’ll find that it is an integral part of the whole of creation – not just humans. The soil needs Sabbath. The cattle need Sabbath. People need Sabbath. Fellow laborers, priests need Sabbath too.
Considering my situation, I can’t do what other pastors do (take Monday off). But, I’ve committed to finding Sabbath rest – not just rest for rest’s sake, but rest for rejuvenation’s sake – which means that during these rare jewels of time, I want to incorporate personal meditation upon and worship of my precious God.
How are you intentionally experiencing Sabbath?