As many of you know, this past week was the diocese’s annual Bishop’s Retreat for Clergy — a two-day silent retreat wherein we learn, pray, live and grow together amidst the beauty of nature, so that our bodies and spirits may be refreshed as well as our minds enlightened. Ideally, we come away better equipped as Christians, and servants of the people and parishes we love.
In my own silent time during the retreat, I did some reading and reflection upon the concept of Sabbath. In the Jewish tradition, the Sabbath was instituted on the seventh day of creation and its holiness was commanded by God to be observed by all faithful people. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in his book (aptly titled) Sabbath teaches that the Sabbath is not just a time to refrain from doing work so that we can be refreshed to do more work. It is a holy time to be welcomed and celebrated for its own sake; a time consecrated to draw closer to God.
For Christians, this is an important concept as well. Our Sabbath is Sunday, the day in which we celebrate the outpouring of love and forgiveness that God gave us in Jesus. It is not just a day in which to sleep in, rest and recuperate from all our hard work. It is a day consecrated for enjoying and savouring our freedom in God; our relationship with Christ and with the body of Christ — the church. In addition to celebrating the Eucharist together, spending extra time in silence, enjoying the beauty of nature, and maybe even fasting from media could be some ways in which we might honour this holy day as a gift, ordained by God as the pinnacle of Creation.
Download service booklet here: Liturgy at Home Pentecost 24 November 7 2021