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Devotional: August 15, 2020

Heaven and Earth were finished,

    down to the last detail.

By the seventh day

        God had finished his work.

    On the seventh day

        he rested from all his work.

    God blessed the seventh day.

        He made it a Holy Day

    Because on that day he rested from his work,

all the creating God had done.

This is the story of how it all started,

    of Heaven and Earth when they were created.

Genesis 2: 1-4 The Message


In Genesis chapter one, over the course of six days God creates the world, and all that is in it. God then declares that it is good. In fact, it is very good.


Then we come to the seventh day. Here, God rests from his work. Yet the Lord does more than just rest. He blesses the seventh day, as a day of rest. In fact, He declares it a Holy Day.


The idea of Sabbath, and setting aside time to rest from our labors has gained traction in recent years. “Sabbath-keeping” has even become a trend. 


Why is that? Maybe it is because there is a dawning recognition in our society about the importance of resting, and relaxation, for our emotional, physical, and spiritual health. As a pastor, Sunday has always been a “work day” for me, so I learned long ago that rest doesn’t have to occur on a specific day. My schedule can often change from week to week. Yet I know that when I seek that time to rest, reflect, and restore, life looks a little fresher.


Sabbath-keeping became a foundational part of the Jewish religion, and one of the characteristics which set Israel apart from its neighbors. Some have even said that the Jewish people may have been more successful in their business precisely because they regularly took the time to keep the Sabbath. In other words, this regular Sabbath-keeping gave them more energy and drive to succeed in business on the other six days of the week! I am unsure about how accurate this claim is, but it is an interesting opinion. I’m sure many of us can relate to being more productive after a day of rest.


We know that the seventh day of the week is actually Saturday. However, Christians shifted to Sunday to honor the day of Christ’s resurrection. Perhaps one of the gifts of Sabbath-keeping is that when we rest from our labors, we realize that we are more than just laborers. We are children of God. We are part of creation. Resting for one day out of seven reminds us to give thanks to the Creator, for just being part of this wonderful world. We are not defined wholly by our vocation.


Do you have a specific time or even day set aside for rest each week?  Do you wish you did?  What do you do to refresh your soul, and renew your mind?


This story reminds us that the need for rest is built into the very fabric of creation. When we ignore the need for rest it is at our peril. It is much better for us to imitate God, by resting from our labors weekly, and enjoying the fruits of our labors. Remember: our God created both labor and Sabbath rest. We need both in order to thrive…


Prayer


Lord of all creation,

You know us intimately, and completely, right down to numbering the hairs upon our head. You know our every need, and You offer us solutions to those needs. Help us to listen to Your guidance, including your command to rest. Help us to draw from the well of strength and nourishment that You offer our bodies, and our souls. Thank You for caring to every detail of our life. We pray this prayer in Your most precious name. Amen.


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