Pastor Gayle’s Reflections
“In the same way that beginning a New Year with a clean slate and fresh hope motivates us toward change, finding a rhythm of rest in a busy world makes life radically different.” – Shelly Miller
As we welcome the New Year, we are reminded that God makes all things new. This is as much reassurance as it is challenge, for to “make things new” we must accept and strive for change. At this time of year, many people make resolutions to do better or be better. To give up bad habits and cultivate good ones. Some will succeed, but many will fail to achieve the goals they set, for any number of reasons.
Change is hard, especially when it calls for living counter-culturally. It’s difficult to eat healthy, when unhealthy food is so easily and inexpensively available, while healthier foods often take more time and money. It can be nearly impossible to save money for emergencies or the future when we are barely able to pay our monthly bills. And the messages of advertising, TV and movies, and social media throw temptation in our faces at every turn, not to mention informing us that whatever we have and however we are, right now, is not enough.
What if each of us resolved to find a “rhythm of rest”? In scripture, this is referred to as Sabbath keeping – the setting aside of a day when work is not done, and time is deliberately focused on our relationships with God and one another. In our society, any kind of rest is discouraged as lazy and worthless, despite countless studies showing the importance of rest for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. We are called on to add more and more to our schedules from an early age. This leaves us with little time for gathering as a worshipping body (focusing on our relationships with God and one another), let alone unscheduled time on our own to meditate, reflect on, or contemplate where God might be leading us. All of this leaves us tired, cranky, unhealthy, and in many cases, distant from God.
Would you like to work toward a life that is “radically different”? A life that is built around the counter-cultural values rest and Sabbath keeping? How might that change the way we interact with one another and with the world around us? How might that help us to “make things new” in our congregation and community? How might “rhythm[s] of rest” look and feel in this New Year?