Lenten Devotional – Feb 22, 2023

Wednesday, February 22, 2023
The Gift of Time: Sabbath Devotions for Lent
By Pastor Travis Norton

Today we begin our daily devotional readings around the theme of sabbath. Members and staff of the church have agreed to read various books on the topic and share what they’ve learned through these daily emails. This first one is sent to our whole mailing list, if you’d like to continue to receive these please make sure to sign up below.

We’ve chosen this theme because we recognize how busy people are or feel and how difficult it is to experience the gift of rest and renewal that God has for us each week. Our hope is that these devotionals will help you experience the gift God intended the Sabbath to be, and perhaps experience it in a way that you hadn’t considered beforehand. 

Today we begin with the book I read, The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel. Heschel lived from 1907 to 1972 and wrote this book in 1951. He was professor of Ethics and Mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. In the next four days, I’ll introduce you to some of his thoughts on sabbath that have already had a profound effect on how I experience God and keeping the Sabbath holy.

Heschel writes “There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, become our whole concern.” 

He goes on to talk about the difference between space and time. We spend most of our concern on the things of space. Our houses, our jobs, our money and how we use it are all primarily concerned with things of space. But Heschel says that God is found in Time, and the first thing called holy, was not a thing but a time.  Sabbath time is where we connect with God so that that the things of space do not dominate us. He writes “Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time.” He talks about the Sabbath – which for Jews is Friday night through Saturday night – as a “palace in time.” It is built of soul, joy, and reticence. We learn who God is by our abstentions, by what we don’t do. He says of the Sabbath, it is “adjacent to eternity.”

The Sabbath is a time when we regain our dignity and are protected from the tyranny of civilization and all the things of “space.” Sabbath is a time when we are to be free from personal anxiety or care. Heschel even says we shouldn’t even try to remember our sin or failures or anything that might dampen our joy. He says we should rest from labor but also rest even from the thought of labor!

Holy God, you have given me the gift of sabbath and I thank you for it. Teach me to revel in a time set apart to just be. Give me rest from all my worries and concerns. Show me the path to joy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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