I am so glad that my friend, J. Dana Trent has brought For Sabbath's Sake: Embracing Your Need for Rest, Worship and Community into the world (released last Sunday!)
For the world needs more conversations about the hard practice of stopping, remembering and being connected to our Creator. We forget so often. We think we're in charge of our own lives. Our busyness blinds us.
We NEED SABBATH.
As for me, I’ve always been a much better do-er than I have a wait-er or rest-er. (Yes, you can read into that I'm an Enneagram 3).
As a child, I hated teacher workdays and federal holidays because they threw off my productive routine. I begged to go to school even as my parents reminded me no one would be there. I couldn’t stand to be idle at home.
As a college student, I was never really good at taking days off either. I was known to hit the library right after church on Sunday and sometimes on Saturday afternoons too (real buzz kill I know).
And now as a new mom, I hardly know what Sabbath days are anymore. My only Sabbath practice is that we do not turn on the washer or dryer on Sundays. Nor do we fold clothes. (Though I have to say if we have a major meal time explosion, we break our own rule).
On my plate is seven days of work both outside and inside the home. I love my life, but . . .
Reading For Sabbath's Sake in the midst of my current state of SO MUCH going on was a wake-up call.
Not only did I have to slow down long enough to finish a whole book (something that feels like such a feat these days) but Dana's story opened my eyes to places in my life that could be more life-giving and restful even if these places didn't look like my pace before a little person came into my home.
For Sabbath's Sake reminded me of the joy of having unplanned days-- even if I was still in "mom mode" a day could be set aside for play. I could let my daughter be the lead.
For Sabbath's Sake reminded me of the importance of having more than just text conversations with the dearest of friends. More often than not, I need to pick up the phone and call people and clear out time in my schedule (and hope they did in theirs) to hear how they are really doing. And IRL (in real life) talks were even better!
For Sabbath's Sake reminded me of the element of economic resistance in Sabbath keeping-- everyone needs time off in their week. My habit of going to the grocery store on Sunday night might be keeping one of my neighbors from their gift of sabbath. I could wait till Monday morning.
These are small drops into a big bucket of course in our world that is FAST, FAST, FAST and NOW, NOW, NOW. But after reading For Sabbath's Sake, I was left with guiding ideas that I could practice given all the other things going on in my life.
When I reviewed this book prior to publication, this was my endorsement and call to action to the church:
"J. Dana Trent has one message for those who say in the church ‘I’m too busy for Sabbath keeping:’ your busyness means you need it even more!
For Sabbath’s Sake is a spiritual jolt back into learning what it means to set aside time for rest in the age of an ever beeping smart phone and exploding calendar. It’s just the book every congregation needs to study together for a reminder of our identity as Sabbath people."
And I stand by these words even now as I have my very own copy of #ForSabbathsSake in my hands. Every congregation needs to pick up a copy of this book. Your soul will thank you for doing so. I know mine did!
Bulk Orders: Upper Room Books provides bulk discounts on orders for churches, faith-based groups, and nonprofits. Considering order in bulk for your next congregational workshop, retreat, sermon series, Sunday School class, or small group. Call Upper Room Books Customer Service at 1-800-972-0433
Amazon: Order print and Kindle versions here.
It's the week of hope. Happy first Sunday of Advent, friends!
Advent is one of my observances all year. And it's not about the pretty decorations or the special candle lightings. . . .
Advent is four weeks that slow us down when everything in our culture wants to speed things up.
It's four weeks that remind us that waiting is our work as people of faith. Nobody gets what they want by snapping their fingers.
It's four weeks that tell us the good news of faithful ones who have lived through dark times in their journey so we can too!
I love what theologian Walter Brueggemann says about Advent: “Advent is an abrupt disruption in our ‘ordinary time’ . . . an utterly new year, new time, new life.”
And don't we all need newness these days?
Though not common like many do with Lent, I love the idea of taking on a practice just for Advent.
Maybe its intentionally having more moments of quiet and meditation in your day? This year I'm using Chalice Press's Partners in Prayer as for my readings. (You can order your own copy too over here).
Maybe its intentionally taking on an act of service in your community as there are so many extra opportunities to care for others during the holiday season. From buying Angel Tree toys to taking cookies to shut-ins, to going caroling with your church at a nursing home there's really so much that can be done!
Maybe it's adding an activity to your week that remind you to not give up hope. A couple of years ago my practice was watching episodes of the PBS series, Call the Midwife (which I highly recommend by the way) You might think this is strange. Watching a tv show? But for me it was really important. For I really found the topic of childbirth painful, especially at Christmas. Yet, by watching these stories of new life unfold it was my way of giving my hopes back to God. It helped me to see the world from a perspective I'd long ignored.
Have an Advent practice that you (or your family) participate in every year? I'd love to hear about it. Share it in an email or comment.
Whatever it is that you decide is your way to make Advent more meaningful this year, do it with full expectation.
Allow God to meet you wherever you are.
Open your heart to the coming of something unexpected.
And most of all, say yes to those urges that could only come from the Spirit.
It's what the season is all about. Really.
Better things are coming. Just wait for it.