Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sabbath Spirit

As the week starts to wind down, many of us are already anticipating the weekend. But what are we really anticipating? Time to enjoy our favorite hobbies? Time to surf the Internet? Time to get out of town for a day? Time to catch up on our chores? Time to sleep late?

Or... just "down time," period?

Or do we feel a bit guilty even entertaining that idea? For many of us, weekends are as frenetic as weeks, and Sundays no less than Saturdays. Many people arrive at church irritable over how the kids dawdled getting ready, apprehensive over doing good jobs as ushers or choir singers, and hoping the sermon won't cut into after-church time. Too many people with too many weeks of such attitudes, and you wind up with a congregation lacking in both joy and Christian love, full of plastic smiles and good behavior that hides aching hearts and judgmental spirits.

When God commanded His people to take every seventh day for a Sabbath, what He wanted was for them to pause the "hurry-scurry-flurry" of life long enough to discover the true joy of loving Him and each other with all our hearts. All too frequently, we instead make "worship day" either a dutiful requirement or an excuse to be equally busy with different things--and then squabble over who's right about what. Jesus regarded the legalistic Sabbath-keeping of His earthly days with sadness and anger; one can picture Him still shaking His head today because His people still don't "get it."

Loveless legalism and flippant disregard have their roots in the same problem: trying to define "how rest should work" solely by our own judgment. The Sabbath was intended as a day for us to get in tune with God's judgment, to take time to listen to Him and to absorb the teachings of the Spirit so we can learn to see things eternal as clearly as things temporal.

And to carry that sight into our daily work.

The dawning of the Lord's Day
Should bring us joy and peace:
Forgive us, God our Father,
When strivings do not cease,
And when we rush our worship
And squander what is best:
Give us a Sabbath Spirit,
That knows the way of rest!

The dawning of the Lord's Day
Should lift our hearts to praise:
Forgive us, God our Father,
When we choose selfish ways
And grumble over matters
Of prayers or music tone:
Give us a Sabbath Spirit,
That seeks Your will alone!

The dawning of the Lord's Day
Should bid us seek new heights:
Forgive us, God our Father,
When we chase selfish "rights,"
And help us yearn, wholehearted,
For all You hold in store:
Give us a Sabbath Spirit,
That craves to know You more!

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