Tag Archives: rest

Heavenly Reststop

On Sunday Resurrection Lutheran will engage the story of Elijah the prophet. Elijah lived about seventy-five years after the death of King Solomon or about 850 BC. He spoke against King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and their re-introduction of Baal worship and human sacrifice (I Kings 16:34). Elijah’s story is a roller coaster of spiritual and emotional energy.  I Kings 18 contains the story of Elijah’s victory over the Baal priests, calling down the fire of God on his sacrifice. I posted on it last June after re-telling the story at Vacation Bible Adventure.

Elijah in the Desert by Michael D. O'Brien

After securing this victory, one would think Elijah would be filled with supreme confidence. Instead he sank into depression when he learned that Queen Jezebel wanted him dead. He could face the 450 prophets of Baal, but not an angry queen. The instinct to escape took hold, and he ran away to the edge of the map and beyond. Beersheba is the southern edge of civilization and Elijah pushed beyond it into the wilderness. There he collapsed under a broom tree and prayed for death. Like the prophet Jonah after Nineveh’s repentance, Elijah asked the Lord to take his life. He had hit bottom, emotionally and spiritually. Exhausted he fell asleep.

At this low point, God intervened.

Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. (I Kings 19:5-8)

What a comforting moment, with  the angel’s touch, the warm cakes, and the jar of water. And then the cycle is repeated: rest, touch, cakes, water. It was if Elijah needed to slow down, to stop and rest.

Perhaps that is the intent for us as the reader. To stop and rest in this story for a moment. Are you able at this moment to simply rest in God’s grace and love?

You have made us for yourself, oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until we rest in you. Augustine.

Lord Jesus, teach me to rest in you.

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On the seventh day they had a picnic

Yesterday was the kick-off to the fall season for Resurrection Lutheran. Under bright beautiful sky we had our church picnic after worship. The tempting smell of grilled brats, the energetic conversation of friends and neighbors and the loud squeal of dunk-tank participants permeated our church grounds. In the morning worship I joked that for one afternoon we would be Resurrection “Baptist” Church as people were fully submerged in the dunk tank. When my turn came, I was thankful for the cool water on a very warm afternoon.

Two thoughts popped in and out of my head as we celebrated our Vibrant Life in Christ. They both arose from our worship text in the morning: Genesis 1 where God creates the heavens and the earth. Throughout the chapter there is the constant refrain: “And God saw that it was good.” The goodness of God’s creation was being experienced by picnic participants; the joy and wonder on their faces reflected that goodness.

A second thought followed the first. The thought came from part of the Genesis story that I had skipped over in my morning sermon.

So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it because on it God rested from all the work he had done in creation. Genesis 2:3.

God’s rest on the seventh day is a powerful reminder that as God’s creatures we need rest as well. The third commandment flows from this: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. I sensed that many of us were “resting” at our church picnic, even as we scurried around. Much of my normal week is spent sitting indoors/the opportunity to be outdoors, enjoying a beautiful fall afternoon was restful. And when I engage in meaning conversation with other saints it is holy. The morning worship and the afternoon picnic provided me with a healthy dose of rest and remembrance.

Pastor John becomes John the Baptized

And, to top it off, I had the opportunity to remember my baptism as I went into the tank!

How do you find ways to remember the day of rest?

Lord Jesus, help me to remember the gift of the Sabbath each week.

From Absurd to Obedient

Peace like a River in Colorado

I am on vacation this week, seeking rest and renewal.  I prepared this post before I left, but it contains my hope for this time away.

Wayne Muller, in his book Sabbath, writes about Henri Nouwen.

Henri Nouwn was a dear friend of mine, a brother, priest, mentor.   He was also a fiercely astute observer of our worried, overfilled lives.  Henri insisted that the noise of our lives made us deaf, unable to hear when we are called, or from which direction.  Henri said our lives have become absurd — because in the word absurd we find the Latin word surdus, which means deaf.  In our spiritual lives we need to listen to God who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear in our hurried deafness.

On the other hand, Henri was fond of reminding me that the word obedient comes from the Latin word audire, which means “to listen.” Henri believed that a spiritual life was a pilgrimage from absurdity to obedience — from deafness to listening.  If we surrender fully into Sabbath time, we can slowly move from a life so filled with noisy worries that we are deaf to the gifts and blessings of our life, to a life in which we can listen to God, Jesus, all the Buddhas and saints and sages and messengers who seek to guide and teach us.

The world seduces us with an artificial urgency that requires us to respond without listening to what is most deeply true.  In Sabbath time, we cultivate a sense of eternity where we truly rest, and feel how all things can wait, and turn them gently in the hand until we feel their shape, and know the truth of them.

The theology of progress forces us to act before we are ready. We speak before we know what to say. We respond before we feel the truth of what we know.  In the process, we inadvertently create suffering, heaping imprecision upon inaccuracy, until we are all buried und a mountain of misperception.  But Sabbath says, Be still. Stop.  There is no rush to get to the end, because we are never finished.  Take time to rest, and eat, and drink, and be refreshed.  And in the gentle rhythm of that refreshment, listen to the sound the heart makes as it speaks the quiet truth of what is needed. (p.85)

Lord Jesus, teach me to listen.

Seeking Joyful Rest

Leslee Donovan Painting

As I leave on vacation, I am reflecting on this painting by Leslie Donovan, a talented member of Resurrection.  The simple joy of children being together is what I think vacation and Sabbath are all about.  The children are smiling as they prepare to share a meal together.  The painting invites me to share in that joy and to be present in the moment.  I am encouraged to be at peace in the simple pleasures of life.

God gave us the Sabbath for our benefit.  It is  a means to restore and revive us in our relationships with God, others and creation.

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that is in them, but rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it (Exodus 20:8,11)

Wayne Muller has written an excellent book called Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives.  In a chapter called “A New Beginning” he writes,

The ancient rabbis teach that on the seventh day, God created menuha — tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose — rest, in the deepest possible sense of fertile, healing, stillness. Until the Sabbath, creation was unfinished.  Only after the birth of menuha, only with tranquility and rest, was the circle of creation made full and complete. (p. 37)

This week I am seeking the menuha, the peace of God.

How do find rest?

Lord Jesus, grant me rest in you.