Spirit Alive: Have You Caught Your Breath Lately?
Spirit Alive is a weekly blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.
November 10, 2015
Food for the Soul
This past year I read three wonderful books on Sabbath: 24/6 by Matthew Sleeth, The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel, and The Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now by Walter Brueggemann. Each book helps the reader understand why the practice of Sabbath is so critical to living a faith-filled life, especially in today's world.
In his classic work, first published in 1951, Abraham Heschel reminds us that Sabbath is fundamentally about time: “To gain control of the world of space is certainly one of our tasks. The danger begins when in gaining power in the realm of space we forfeit all aspirations in the realm of time. There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquistion of things of space, becomes our sole concern.” So Sabbath, Heschel says, is about celebrating time rather than space.
Matthew Sleeth brings this same point home by saying: “Today we live in one of the most prosperous eras of human history, yet many of us never get beyond survival mode. And unrelenting work can keep us from asking life’s big questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What does all this mean? Jumping off the hamster wheel once a week allows us to think about who we are, why we exist, and why we were made.”
Perhaps this is why Walter Brueggemann challenges us to see Sabbath as an act of resistance against a dominant, competitive, consumption-oriented culture that is more concerned with power and things than it is with community and spiritual life. As Brueggemann says: “Sabbath is not only resistance. It is alternative. It is an alternative to the demanding, chattering, pervasive presence of advertising and its great liturgical claim of professional sports that devours all of our ‘rest time.’ The alternative offer is the claim that we are situated on the receiving end of the gifts of God.”
These three books are well worth reading on one's day of rest, when you can kick your feet up and absorb the words from these powerful, wise teachers.
Blessings on your journey,
Spirit Alive is a weekly blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference. It will seek out where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities. These are signs and examples of life that can be expressed in inspiring books, vivid videos, and works of art. Spirit Alive is intended to point to these “signs” in ways that touch our hearts and nurture our faith journeys. Check out past editions, or subscribe to the email list.