Canon Clark says that "Sabbath rest starts to disconnect us from the anxiety of the world, and open our hearts to turn more fully towards God. And when we turn more fully towards God out of this place of restfulness, we can be grateful, and we can seek and find the things that give us true joy, the things that God has made us for." (Time: 5:52.)
Find out more about the three books Canon Clark talks about at: Summer of Sabbath: Suggested reading.
This is Canon Margo Peckham Clark in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. In her most recent message, Bishop Hughes invited us to a Summer of Sabbath, a time of rest, gratitude, and finding the things that give us joy. The noted biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann goes perhaps even one step further, when he says that Sabbath is more than the pause that refreshes, it is the pause that transforms. He reminds us that we live in a world that is in so many ways characterized by anxiety, and that when we take the time to rest, as God rested after creation, we remember that creation is not dependent only on work. Creation is dependent on God. And when we choose God, we choose restfulness over the restlessness of our world.
So how is it going for you in these first couple of weeks of the Summer of Sabbath? When we truly rest in the way that Sabbath envisions, one of the things that can happen is our minds and our hearts, our spirits, start to quiet. We disconnect from that restlessness that characterizes so much of our lives. And even if we are running around and doing things - I've been running to lacrosse tournaments for my son, a lot of the last month or so - even when we are still busy in some way that Sabbath rest starts to disconnect us from the anxiety of the world, and open our hearts to turn more fully towards God. And when we turn more fully towards God out of this place of restfulness, we can be grateful, and we can seek and find the things that give us true joy, the things that God has made us for. This is a lot in a world that doesn't always invite Sabbath, or restfulness.
We have suggested three books that you might consider. I would urge you that if you're not yet starting to feel rested, and that kind of disconnection from all the anxiety of the world that is the aim of Sabbath, that you wait a little bit. These are all short books, and they'll all be waiting. So if you simply need to rest, and be, and be with loved ones, and enjoy the summer, do that. When we do get that deep rest of Sabbath though, our hearts are turned not only to gratitude, flowing from that gratitude, we are drawn into a deeper relationship with God and a desire to serve God. And each of the three books that we've recommended help with that in some way.
The first one is called "How to Pray" by Bishop John Pritchard from the Church of England. And it truly is a little manual on how to pray. If you've never thought much about praying besides the Lord's Prayer, or "Please God help me" in moments of crisis, Pritchard's manual is a wonderful way to start to think more deeply about prayer in a way that's really accessible and fits easily into daily life. There's two other books that we've recommended. One is by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, "Being Disciples." And the subtitle is the "Essentials of the Christian life." So as you move through Sabbath, this is a way to think more about all of the elements of a Christian life from one of the great thinkers and theologians of our time. Again, it's short and accessible and covers a lot of areas that connect to our daily lives and being in community. The third book that we've recommended is by Catherine Meeks. It's called "The Night is Long but Light Comes in the Morning" Meditations for Racial Healing." Some of you may remember of Professor Meeks coming to speak to us during the pandemic on Zoom. And this is a series of meditations that can be digested one at a time, looking at this theme of racial healing and how it connects to our spiritual lives. There are 48 meditations, so you could take one each day as you go through the rest of this summer of Sabbath.
So whether you choose to look at one of these three books now or later in the summer, or if you are simply resting and enjoying your life and your loved ones and feeling connected to God in that way, God bless you and keep you and we will see you in September.