Morgan Park

 Baptist Church

11024 S. Bell Avenue 

Chicago, IL 60643


Reflection August 2, 2015

On Keeping
the Sabbath Holy
Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth

     This coming Sunday, I will preach on the 4th Commandment - on keeping the Sabbath holy. To prepare us for pondering this commandment, I wish to offer some reflections from a lovely book which I read some years ago: Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest by Wayne Muller.

     “Because of our desire to succeed, to meet these ever-growing expectations, we do not rest. Because we do not rest, we lose our way.”

     “The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others.”

     “In the trance of overwork, we take everything for granted. We consume things, people, and information. We do not take time to savor this life, nor do we care deeply and gently for ourselves, our loved ones, or our world; rather, with increasingly dizzying haste, we use them all up, and throw them away.”

     “We must have a period in which we lie fallow, and restore our souls. In Sabbath time, we remember to celebrate what is beautiful and sacred.”

     “Sabbath is more than the absence of work; it is not just a day off, when we catch up on television or errands. It is the presence of something that arises when we consecrate a period of time to listen to what is most deeply beautiful, nourishing, or true.”

     “The world aches for the generosity of a well-rested people.”

     “Rest is an essential enzyme of life, as necessary as air. Without rest, we cannot sustain the energy needed to have life. We refuse to rest at our peril - and yet in a world where overwork is seen as a professional virtue, many of us feel we can legitimately be stopped only by physical illness or collapse.”

     “One translation of the biblical phrase ’to pray’ is ’to come to rest.’”

     “If you work all week and forget to rest, you will become brittle and hard, and lose precious nourishment and joy … If we forget to rest, we will work too hard and forget our more tender mercies, forget those we love, forget our children and our natural wonder … This is not a life-style suggestion, but a commandment - as important as not stealing, not murdering, or not lying.”

     “Sabbath implies a willingness to be surprised by unexpected grace.”

     “Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished with all our work, we will never stop - because our work is never completely done ... If we refuse rest until we are finished, we will never rest until we die. Sabbath dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from this need to be finished.”

     “Compared to Europeans, Americans spend three to four times as many hours per year shopping. Shopping has become a primary use of leisure time.”

     “What if we were to expand our definition of wealth to include those things that grow only in time - time to walk in the park, time to take a nap, time to play with children, to read a good book, to dance, to put our hands in the garden, to cook playful meals with friends, to paint, to sing, to meditate, to keep a journal.”

     “Although we purchase twice what we did in the 1950’s, can we honestly say we are happier for it? … The truth must be told: With all the money in the world, and no time, we have nothing at all.”

     “During Sabbath we disengage from what (Rabbi) Abraham Heschel calls ‘the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness.’ We focus less on our lack, and more on our abundance.”

     “Happiness is the single commodity not produced by the free-market economy. Worse than that, when we are happy, we don’t feel the need to buy anything. The Sabbath, a day of delight, a day to be at peace with all we have, is a radical, dangerous prescription.”

     “The lie (in advertising) is this: While (all the advertisements) are promising happiness, they are really selling dissatisfaction. Our entire economy is predicated upon dissatisfaction. If we are satisfied, we do not need more than we already have.”

     “Sabbath is an incubator for wisdom. When we allow the rush and the pressure of our days to fall away, even for a short period of time, we are more able to discern the essential truth of what lies before us.”

     “One of the things that died with Jesus was the illusion that the world will always reward good deeds. Sabbath is a time when we retreat from the illusion of our own indispensability.”

     “In the quiet (of Sabbath), the truth emerges: I do not know where I am going. I am ridding a wave I cannot see. The wind blows where it will, and we hear the sound of it, but we cannot tell from whence it comes or whither it goes. Such is the way of the Spirit.”

Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Interim Pastor

Rev. Millie Myren, Support Minister