As I left Gee and Sandy’s Post-Christmas Eve Service Drop in Party, I turned my car on to find the ‘Check Engine’ light still on. I had hoped that the indicator was a fluke that would go away after sitting for about 2 hours. But this time, along with the light was a pretty violent shaking. Something was definitely wrong with my pretty reliable vehicle. I drove straight to St. Joseph’s where I was meeting friends for Midnight Mass. My friend Rebecca and her mom had agreed to follow me afterwards (after 130am) to drop my car off at the mechanics and then take me home.
Another friend, Taylor, picked me up mid-morning on December 25 for Christmas Mass at the Catholic Church in my neighborhood.
PAUSE: No, I am not converting to Catholicism, however, in the last year Catholic Mass has been an environment that brings me closer to Jesus in some profound and meaningful ways. It has actually made me more passionate about worship and ministry. If you wanna know more, hit me up for a coffee or something. UNPAUSE.
After mass, Taylor took me back home and the rest of the day would be spent, well, alone. I can honestly say that being car-less on Christmas began to feel like the sheer kindness of God. In many ways, it was a forced PAUSE in my busy, complicated and complex life.
I filled my day with cleaning my kitchen and bathroom, making a pot of collard greens, playing with my dogs, reflecting on all the birth of Jesus means to us and dancing to the Housefires worship project. It was truly Christmas Sabbath. And I needed it. My soul needed a day that I could rest in the fact that my life, my family, and my ministry all started without me. My brain needed a day to be reminded that God is able to perfectly keep me and all the things that concern my life. My heart needed a day to remember that while I do take part in the ministry of God’s kingdom here in on earth, its advancement is not dependent on me.
It will be a surprise to many who know me, but this was NOT my first sabbath this year. It was not my 52nd either for that matter. But I am pretty sure I got about 20 truly Sabbath days of rest (not just days off of work) in during 2014. Yes, I am a work-a-holic. Yes, my life is fast-paced with many responsibilities and obligations. Yes, my ‘to do list’ is way too long and my ‘stop doing list’ doesn’t really exist. But one thing I know is that I cannot go too long without days where I deeply lean into the fact that in Jesus, God created the world and holds all things together; I can rest for 3 hours or a full day because God will never need my help with any of that. Sabbath exist to remind us that all we do in the name and for the sake of Jesus is simply grace and mercy.
I once heard a seminary professor teaching on Jewish perspectives on the Sabbath say something like this: The six days of work lead into the seventh day of rest, and the seventh day of rest lead back into the next six days of work. In a sense, work and rest are both essential spiritual disciplines. One without the other leaves us unbalanced and missing the point of the other. Christmas Day reminded me of this.
As 2014 comes to a close, I am praying that those who are weary of work would find both rest and revelation in a Sabbath practice next year. Ideally, worship at local congregations on Sundays are great for this, but not always. Just remember, no matter how busy, obligated and/or responsible you feel, we all need a few minutes, if not hours (and probably a whole day) to open ourselves to Jesus. It is more than a day off and way different from a vacation. Sabbath practice not only gives rest to our beings, it also reminds of why our work in this life matters. Praying that many would see that this coming year.
To the One who holds all things together!