Sabbath Rest

The dullness of the English Sunday of my youth is with me still, especially the long, dull afternoons when nothing ever happened save the arrival of tediously dull guests for equally dull tea and even duller conversation. It was only as I grew older that I began to appreciate that Sunday emptiness as an opportunity to experience sabbath rest — a time out of time, as it were, linking the present with eternity. As such, it took on a richer, deeper meaning: not emptiness but fullness, joy not ennui. At the same time it was borne on me that sabbath rest implies much more than not doing. The monastic liturgy is at its most elaborate and demanding on Sundays, of course, and the personal commitment to prayer and reading is greater than on other days, but at the heart of it all is the invitation to live the Resurrection here and now. We do indeed rest: from sin, from arrogance, from selfishness, from whatever chokes the divine life within us. At the same time we act, or rather, we allow God to act powerfully within us. If we have no other time during the week, at least on Sundays we can make space for God in our lives and let him Easter within us. That is the true sabbath rest, the rest of eternity.

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5 thoughts on “Sabbath Rest”

  1. I completely agree. Sunday must be like the eighth day, the Sunday without sunset, the heaven’s foretaste. So I’ve given me this rule: in Sunday act what you’d want in heaven. So don’t go shopping, don’t work (if unnecessary), don’t clean house, don’t rest in your selfishness…and instead read a book, listen music, pray, attend Mass with joy, go hiking, meet friends, go to cinema, museum … Sunday it’s a precious time that you have not to waste!

  2. I too recall what I regarded as empty Sabbath. We had Mass and than literally nothing, apart from doing the chores that we were required to do (I was in care at the time). I suspect that we actually welcomed something to do, although I recall moaning about them all of the same.

    Now, Sundays can be frantic. From 8 am, until lunch time or later. I might be preaching, leading prayers, serving at Holy Communion, or reading or more mundane, acting as welcome team at the rear of church, keeping an eye on everything, particularly the sound system, that people who are not as mobile are assisted or supported, the collection and guiding people too and from the Communion Rail.

    The great privilege of leading services, particularly Evensong, has been granted to me, and just yesterday as a Licensed Lay Minister, I assisted the Bishop at our Confirmation Service, and sponsored someone who came into Church at an out of church event that I ran in the Church Hall, and yesterday, he committed himself to Jesus Christ. I am over awed that something that I did, or said at the first meeting, last Autumn, has now resulted in a commitment for life.

    I love the upbeat of Sunday Mornings and come home to lunch and collapse, perhaps doing some reading that I have been set or given. Books can become an obsession, I have so many, that I now need a spare room as a library. An investment that I don’t begrudge on iota.

    Sunday evening Services are sometimes Communion or Evensong, so something else to look forward too, instead of watching the TV, I am able to worship again, with the congregations who attend different services.

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