There are times when we need to take a break, and consider our options. In the Bible, we call it the Sabbath, the seventh day, a day of rest and reflection; a day for God.
For someone like me, it’s a very hard thing to do, slow down, I mean, and take it easy. Maybe some of you can relate. I personally tend to err on the side of busy, busy, busy, and frankly, it’s pretty stressful, especially during Covid-19. We all need downtime, an opportunity to smell the flowers, and enjoy God’s goodness and mercy. As one preacher puts it, you and I have a religious responsibility to goof off from time to time.
How to accomplish it? I believe we need each other’s support to experience the Sabbath.
On this particular upcoming Sabbath, our church is celebrating Earth Day. As disciples of Christ, we know we are called to be good stewards of God’s creation. Easy to say; not easy to do.
When business guru Guy Kawasaki and his wife had their first child, they were determined to be politically and environmentally correct. They were going to use cotton diapers and wash them themselves. Two weeks went by. Doing your own cotton diapers, they discovered, doesn’t cut it. They didn’t want to wash the diapers with their stuff so they found that either their house stank or they felt guilty for doing lots of small loads.
So they went to a diaper service. They discovered this doesn’t work well either. Sometimes they would forget to take the diapers out. And the house would still have this unpleasant aroma. So after four weeks, they gave up on cotton diapers. They finally said to themselves, “Let’s just use Pampers and give money to the Sierra Club.” I imagine some of you nodding your heads.
Protecting the earth and being environmentally sensitive isn’t always as easy as it seems.
What’s a believer to do? Well, first off, although environmental problems may seem insurmountable, we’ve got to start somewhere. Second, we know we must think outside the box. Be creative. As Dr. Seuss said: “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
It’s clear we must learn more about sustainable living. When it comes to saving the planet, our faith compels us to carefully consider our priorities, and what we can do, right here and now. We can’t come up with creative, innovative ideas by always doing the same old same old. We must take a break, reflect, consider our options, and give it up to God. Which is where the Sabbath comes in.
“God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them: When you enter the land which I am going to give you, the land will observe a Sabbath to God. Sow your fields, prune your vineyards, and take in your harvests for six years. But the seventh year the land will take a Sabbath of complete and total rest, a Sabbath to God; you will not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Don’t reap what grows of itself; don’t harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land gets a year of complete and total rest.” (Leviticus 25:1-5, from The Message.)
Sure, they had to eat, but see how they both protected their land and connected it all to God? They understood that the land and everything in it was God’s, to be honored and cared for and protected. One of God’s basic laws—hear me, one of God’s laws—is that we should take time off to rest. One of God’s special gifts to the human race is the gift of the Sabbath, the time of rest.
I pray we reconnect to our earthly roots, find new, innovative ways to save God’s planet and live sustainably, before it’s too late. It’s not our earth; it’s God. We are simply God’s stewards, and we and the earth require Sabbath. And amen to that.
Rev. Robin Mathews-Johnson has been the pastor of Watsonville First United Methodist Church since the last century. Weekly Online Gatherings are linked to their website: watsonville1stumc.org. Contact her at (831) 724-4434, or [email protected].