January marks the last month of our church sabbath time, a time where we have called on the church to slow down, to seek to simplify life, in order to pray and listen – to be refreshed by God’s presence and encouraged and strengthened in vision for God’s mission and purpose in our lives and in our congregation.
The first month of the Sabbath, we focused on the invitation to let go. To look at our calendars, our commitments and busy-ness, and make an effort to step back from some of it. Time isn’t money – it is far more valuable (and scarce!). To be intentional about what we choose to do, and also to create space where we can breathe, where we can be more attentive to God and not just rushed along. We invited groups in the church, if they chose to keep meeting during this time, to use the time differently, to experiment, to try something new. Letting go is an invitation to trust that God will fill our lives with what we could not receive while our hands are full with our own plans, ideas and resources.
The second month of Sabbath has been about waiting on God. Advent is a perfect time of year for this – remembering the wait for God’s messiah to be given in Jesus, acknowledging our wait for Jesus’ return. In prayerful waiting, we think about our goals, our hearts, our attitudes and lives; what’s going on inside of us? What is God doing around us? Where is God’s Spirit nudging us? What does it mean that Jesus reigns – and do we truly want the kind of world that Jesus has promised to establish?
This third and final month of Sabbath is about paying attention to what we have learned, what God has shown us, and seeking to understand what that will mean, how that will be lived out as we move forward. What has God called me to pour my time and energy into? What are less important things that I can let go of? As a church, where do we focus our time, our schedules, our energy? Where has God been showing us the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of our community?
This Sabbath journey has been structured like walking a labyrinth; used by the ancient church since the 4th century – it is a tool for prayer marked by three stages: the journey to the center (letting go), the time in the center (prayerful communion with God), and the journey back (preparing to re-enter the world). Now is the time to get ready for what God will have for us to engage in this spring; may it be an experience of eager anticipation and readiness to take what we’ve learned and lean into the mission.
Blessings on the Journey,