Word of the Week

Sanctuary on Sabbatical

It’s summer, the time of year that we normally find ourselves trying to relax and take time off and chill just a little. But the more that I am a resident of this area, the more I learn how hard it is in this part of the country to actually do this.

How is it that peace finds us in this crazy paced life we find ourselves in? How is it that we are able to be present in the situations before us instead of simply going through the motions of them?

For the next month, we, as a congregation are going to be walking in steps outside of our comfort zone, both for long time members and visitors alike. The sanctuary will be closed and on sabbatical. We will be singing some different songs. The sermon will be formated with more time for group interaction. We'll share in communion every week.

As we meet in the Plaza Room downstairs, we’ll be exploring questions of Sabbath keeping—of how we find ourselves, our spirits in this crazy life we find ourselves in located in the DC metro area. And in actual setting, it’s certainly a break from going through the motions of worship. We are calling this period of time a sabbatical from our sanctuary upstairs—we are giving rest to what is our normal practice--- where we normally sit, when we normally stand-up and sit down, what feels comforting to us and worshiping here.

And, though the Sabbatical setting not feel like normal church, the hope is that the circumstances model for each of us what rest, time a part and renewal feel like. For, to be present in our own lives, our own faith, in our own church, there are times when we have to step out of usual patterns for a while and gain grounding again about why we do as we do.

When I hear, the word Sabbath there are images that come to mind, but I wonder about you?

For me, Sabbath through my life has been a day off—an entire day that is normally around Sundays in a tradition sense . . . . where you don’t watch tv, you don’t shop, you spend time with friends and family and you work. Something I observe well sometimes and often times not. 

Recently while in Israel—we experienced Sabbath in a Biblical/ modern context as we traveled alongside devote Jews in a nation founded on Sabbath keeping. Everything, yes, everything stopped as sundown began. Couldn’t get a cup of coffee, couldn’t get a taxi on the West side of the Jerusalem because it was Saturday.

Yet, when most of us think of this kind of Sabbath practice, we think that we can’t afford or stand to take this type of time off. There are too many things to do. Too little time to do them and so many things to distract us if we tried, especially on the Internet. Be offline for 24 hours? You’ve got to be kidding, Pastor, that is something that would be impossible for me to stand.

How quickly we find our spirits rebel from thinking about a Sabbath filled lifestyle as just one more thing to accomplish . . . and it gets pushed to the bottom of our to-do list.  And really, would it do us any good if we went to all the effort?

Yet, there is a theme I sense from each of you in our conversations with one another.

I often hear you voice to me frustrations of “running around like crazy not having time to even eat” “needing a vacation soon” OR “wanting to have more time to do the things you like to do yourself” and “being able to sit down with a cup of coffee and really talk to people like you don’t have to be somewhere else real soon.”

And, such concerns are certainly ones that I voice from time to time myself. For, the pace of life in DC is just this: relentless and always inviting us on our way to what is next.  And, so maybe, what we’ve just discussed with one another about what Sabbath actually is maybe might not be so bad idea to explore after all . . .

Join us next Sunday in the Plaza Room to explore more as we stick close to the Old Testament Lectionary texts that are set before us. I'm excited to see where this new adventure of worship takes us. I'm hopeful that our REST this summer becomes more of the presence of our God in our midst together.