Thursday, October 1, 2009

Honoring the Sabbath ...

[The views shared here are mine, as I've come to believe, at this stage of my journey ... not a place of "arrival", but a place of transition, always and continuously awaiting and expecting further revelation, from the One who is always and continuously leading me, and everyone, into all truth. I share this not to provoke a debate, not to inspire a division, and certainly not to form some new denomination ...! As always, inquire within ... what is the Spirit saying to YOU..?]

So ... what is the Sabbath ...? What comes to mind when you say or think the word? A day set aside? Going to a special building for a ritual? Refraining from particular activities? Playing golf? A grim day of enforced boredom ...? ;)

The word Sabbath means "rest". The very Rest of God. We first hear of this rest occurring after God created all that is ... and then He rested. His work was done, complete, and He had declared it "very good." And so He rested ...

Now, I notice that this doesn't mean God ceased to be active, or became passive, or went off into some other galaxy somewhere, requiring that we send long-distance messages, in the hopes that He'll receive them and respond ...! God didn't "wind the clock" of the universe, and then check out into some cosmic resort somewhere... He is here, now, in all things, sustaining all life ... for in Him we live and move and have our being. God is One with His creation. And He wants us to honor the Sabbath.

So, how do we honor the Sabbath...?

The traditions of man have come up with all manner of notions ... complete with all manner of rules ... do this, but not that ... don't even think about that one ... rules upon rules upon rules ... as if God is a nit-picky and demanding task-master, difficult to please, and swift to punish. I would certainly like to rest, to take a break, from that sort of god..!

The traditions of man have declared that we must set aside a particular day (& this day varies according to the particular tradition), show up for a worship service, refrain from working, and, for some, refrain from all activities that require effort ... so that there are appliances that can be set the day before the Sabbath (therefore one would not defy the Sabbath rules by pushing a "start" button). While visiting Jerusalem, my non-Jewish friends were chased for nearly a mile, by an Orthodox Jewish man who asked them to come back to his house and turn on a light switch for him, on the Sabbath. Get that? It was ok for him to run for a mile, but *not* to flip a switch. And it's not just the Jews who go to extreme lengths ... I was taught to refrain from work on Sundays ... but anyone who has wrestled 8 children through the rigmaroles of eating, bathing and putting on decent clothing, and making sure everyone enters the building with their Best Sunday Smile (after arguing all the way to church!) knows the meaning of "work"...! I was frequently exhausted from that sort of "rest". Such is the insanity of the traditions of man, when we lose sight of the purposes of God ...

To honor the Sabbath is to enter into the Rest of God... to cease to struggle, to stop thinking that we have to *do* something to connect with God, to be in a good status with God.

Everything in the old covenant was a physically-observable, tangibly-experiential foretaste and symbol, of the spiritual reality that God wanted to show us. As human beings, we learn through what we experience. We need to touch, to taste, to smell, to see, to hear, in order to know what and how a thing is. Babies are forever putting things in their mouth to experience them (let us pause for a moment in gratitude that we do indeed outgrow this need...!). And that is my point -- the need to experience a thing through our five senses is a mark of immaturity ... a "beginner's mind" that serves a wonderful, and temporary, purpose. When we cling to the immature ways and means, we remain at that stage of development ... whether we're speaking of things emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. We are designed to grow, and to out-grow that which once served us. If we cling to the old ways, we limit our growth ... we become stunted, just like an animal which never sheds it's skin... entrapped, by fear and confusion, in what we have outgrown.

And so the demonstrations in the former (old) covenant were designed to symbolize that which was to come ... when we were ready to enter in to a deeper/higher stage of awareness, of consciousness.

It's helpful if we think of the covenants as stages of awareness, stages of consciousness. And the old one prepared us for the new one. And yet, as with all things, if we cling to what we think we know, to what we think is real, then we miss out on what is being revealed ... to the degree that we declare that we already know, we are non-receptive, and even blind, to that which is being revealed.

And Christ always has "much more" to show us, as we can bear it ... the Spirit is always leading us into more truth ... the only question is, are we willing to let go of what has previously served us, in order to receive the next understanding of Truth...?

God doesn't change ... but our perception of God sure changes ... throughout history, and throughout each of our own lives.

In order to prepare the people for the concept of the Rest of God ... they first had to experience the futility of self-effort. Just as we have to do, in the early stages of our lives, here and now (these truths played out in the macro-story of history, and they play out in the micro-stories of each of our unique lives). Try harder, do more, do better, strive, strive, strive ... this is what we THINK we must do, in order to win approval, in order to earn love, in order to become acceptable (for we are blind to the truth that we are already approved of, already loved, already accepted). As always, God meets us where we are ... "You think you are separated from Me, and must earn your own way into relationship with Me? Ok then, let's take that thought out to it's fullest conclusion ... how's that working for you so far?"

In His mercy, He gave them a taste of what life is meant to be like, living in the Rest of His grace ... for one day per week. On that day, they could cease from their labors, cease from their strivings, and just bask in His Presence. And YET, the ever-striving, ever-delusional heart/mind of man turned even THAT gift into yet another obligatory burden...! Sheesh.

By the time Jesus enters the scene, man had turned this "Sabbath rest" into a hoop-jumping art form! What does Jesus do? What does He say? Well, according to the religious experts of that day, He broke the law ... He ate what He wasn't supposed to, and healed folks, and did good deeds -- all of which were forbidden in the mind of man. He tells them that the Sabbath was made to bless man ... man wasn't made to serve the Sabbath. He tells them that He is lord of the Sabbath, and that they could enter God's Sabbath Rest ... it's not a day to observe ... that was just the symbol! He tells us that *every* day is like the Sabbath.

The Sabbath is a way of life, a consciousness, a stage of awareness ... symbolized by the new covenant, the new heavens and earth itself. It's the relief that floods us when we finally realize that we don't have to DO anything to be One with God ... we just ARE. It's the peace that floods us when we finally realize that God loves us unconditionally, as we are, no matter what, for He is love, and cannot BUT love. It's the joy that overwhelms us when we finally see that we ARE the Beloved, that He is in us, that we are in Him, that nothing can, or ever could, separate us from God ... truly, truly, truly, in Him we live and move and have our being ... there is no life apart from the Life of God ... we are each and all expressions and manifestations of the very Life of God...!

(ask Him if this is true ...!)

We are One in Him, with Him, and all is well. How could the life of God be anything else, but good and well? When we know this, we will feel this, and we will live this, and we will then see this all around us ... what we know to be true is what we experience ... both for good, and for ill.

Next, let's explore what seems to get "in the way" of living in Sabbath Rest ...

Shalom, Dena

1 comment:

MysticBrit said...

A Sabbath Rest for the soul... just a settling back into the sublime reality of being a perfectly formed expression of God, of knowing that just Being Who I Am is all that matters, 'cos then I'm uniquely showing the Glory of God. No spiritual effort required, just a divinely active Rest.

That does it for me, just now:)