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Clergy Letter July 2023

Could you do with a REST?

Reading an interview in the Church Times last weekend, I came across this line: ‘Bible meditation is allowing ourselves the time to simply do nothing in God’s presence. It feels lazy, it feels unproductive, and that, says Society, is a grievous sin.”

I thought of how we admire busy, active people…. Those with full diaries; the movers, and achievers. We all hope to be productive with our time, but this can come at great cost to ourselves and those around us; close family and friends. Society may consider unproductivity ‘a sin’, but the Bible does not. From the very first chapter God ordained and modelled the principle of Sabbath REST,

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

In Jewish Society, their sabbath or ‘Shabbat’ begins at sunset on Friday and lasts until sunset on Saturday. It is a time for rest and joy; family and community. No work is to be done on Shabbat. The day starts with a special family meal. Some of us recall Sundays were like this; you may have attended church, or just had a leisurely day, a special Sunday roast with extended family and perhaps neighbours who were lonely (respectfully referred to ‘Auntie This and Uncle That’ in my childhood!).

Now Sundays are very different; numerous clubs and activities run, many are working on rolling shift patterns and the roads are still very busy… our driven pace never ceases…. The treadmill grinds on.

You may now be thinking…. here is the vicar droning on about why church congregations are dwindling, but the truth is that they have never been full. No, my real concern is for our humanity. The biblical rationale for sabbath is NOT that all men worship God, but that we (man and beast) take regular REST for the well-being of all…

“Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.” (Exodus 23 v.12).

It is NOT a sin to be unproductive…. We are human BEings, not human DOings. REST is a blessing from God. This month, as we listen to Rev Charles Ruxton, who is speaking at our Benefice Service at Sambrook on July 30th, we will consider how we practice Sabbath well in our busy C21st world…and perhaps become a source of rest and peace to others.

Rev Becky, 20th June 2023.


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