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Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

Sabbath keeping… one of the Ten Commandments… encouraged by our grandmothers back in the day… deemed impractical by even devote Christians today. If you read the whole commandment (Exodus 20:8-11), you will discover that Sabbath keeping is about literally ceasing all work in order to rest. The example that is given describes God creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh. That description assumes that we have a moment in the week when our work is done… when we can sit back like God did… and say it is “very good.” I honestly cannot remember that last time that I felt that all my work was done so that I could just sit back and enjoy the accomplishment. So, I keep working, every day, trying to stay on top of the demands. Can you imagine doing no work on any given day? What would happen if we actually stopped?

Sunday, I saw a commercial for a popular grocery store chain. I usually mute the commercials on TV, using those momentary breaks for conversation, or a round of WordScapes, or the reading of a column in the newspaper. But somehow this one commercial slipped past my censorship. As it played out on the screen, its theme flashed again and again: “Reclaim Sunday.” I had a moment of encouragement. Was this possibly a counter-culture, pro-Christian message on national TV? The answer was a resounding NO. The commercial showed one gathering after the next, complete with food and fellowship… all gathered around the religion of the US these days- football. The commercial was celebrating the lifting of COVID restrictions that have allowed some to resume gathering to cheer on their favorite team. This grocery store is hoping that you will feed your gathering with food from their shelves… not quite the idea found in the fourth commandment.

Keep the Sabbath holy… the commandment that claims our time when we are sure that we have no time to spare. Every week, I talk with people still in the workforce and those who are retired, both so busy they cannot imagine completing all their tasks. I talk with students who are overwhelmed by their homework demands, and parents trying to juggle more and more. We are a busy culture. There is never enough time in the day for all that “must” be done. Doesn’t God know this? Hasn’t God noticed that we have no time to rest? Even if we had the time, do we know how to rest? I am one of those people who seldom stops, and even if I sit, I am doing something. The practice of Sabbath has alluded me my whole life. But today, I want to heed the call of that grocery store commercial- “Reclaim Sunday.” I have to admit that I am tired after two years of this COVID charge. I need the rest that Sabbath keeping offers. Don’t you? As a pastor, Sunday may not be the best day for my Sabbath rest, but there must be some time this week that I can dedicate to a God-ordained pause. Is there a time in your week when you could pause long enough to breathe?

I love Chik-fil-A… not just their waffle fries and Chik-fil-A sauce… but their witness every week to the call to keep the Sabbath holy. Monday through Saturday their drive through lines stretch around their buildings and out to the street. But on Sunday, their parking lots are empty, their staff free from work demands. One Sunday, a Chik-fil-A did open… it was an Easter Sunday. A 9-year-old boy in the local children’s hospital was awaiting brain surgery. His nurse asked him what he wanted for his last meal before surgery and he responded, “Chik-fil-A nuggets.” The call went out and the nearby Chik-fil-A store opened, fully staffed by caring workers committed to fulfill his wish. A feast of nuggets and waffle fries was delivered to feed the whole floor, staff and patients. On Monday, that Chik-fil-A store was closed as their staff held a prayer vigil for that little boy. What a witness to the meaning of Sabbath! The Psalmist declares: Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. (Psalm 62:1) That Monday, the Chik-fil-A staff rested in the God who had that little boy, and all of us, in His hands.

Imagine taking a moment this week to rest… trusting that God is Sovereign… that God has things well in hand… that you can actually stop for a moment to breathe, and the world will not come to a screeching halt. Sabbath keeping is an act of trust that the battle belongs to the Lord. He is our refuge and strength. He is the Good Shepherd that provides all our needs. So, take a moment this week to pause… resting in the Savior’s hands. I commit that I will do the same.

With you learning the joy of Sabbath keeping, one moment at a time…
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