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Creation and Sabbath

Creation and Sabbath
Canon Andrew Wright

You may remember that Bishop Hughes talked about sabbath a few weeks ago in The VOICE Online. She encouraged us to find the activities and patterns that help us to take care of ourselves, to be good stewards of our own self. I’m bringing this message to you on behalf of Bishop Hughes this month because she is doing exactly that – after a full and extraordinary program year and a very busy June, including General Convention, Bishop Hughes is practicing what she preaches and taking some time this month for sabbath. She’s taking time to take care of herself so that she can continue to do the work she’s been given to do here in the Diocese of Newark.

When I was reflecting on the Bishop’s words on sabbath, I was reminded that sabbath is part of the order of creation; it’s built in from the very beginning. We learn first about sabbath from our creation story in Genesis. God brings about all the elements of creation – sun, sky, waters, creepy-crawlies, birds, fish, animals, and even us! – in the course of six days and then sets aside the seventh as sabbath. God sees that all was good and rests on the seventh day. We hear this again in Exodus, of course, in the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, but it is a fundamental part of creation itself.

Genesis also reminds us that we are made in God’s image, that who we are reflects who God is. And so, we are a creative people, a diligent and hard-working people – working all week long to bring the world closer to God’s vision of creation – but we also are a people who need times of restoration and rest. We reflect God’s image in that way as well. How can we do the work that God has in store for us, if we are not taking care of ourselves, gathering our energy, refreshing our perspective? Taking sabbath is as much about being renewed in our vision, free from the stresses and anxieties of daily pressure for a time, as it is about resting.

Summer is fully here now and summer often brings some opportunities for time away or apart. If you haven’t yet, set aside some time – just as God did on that seventh day – to find out what you need to take care of yourself. What does it take to rest and restore the body? To reset the sleep cycle? What do you need to clear your mind and get a fresh perspective on yourself, your family, and our world? It’s going to be a little different for each of us and, indeed, should be.

I hope that this summer gives you the opportunity to live more fully into the image of God – which includes tending this creation that God has given us, but also means taking care of ourselves and finding our own sabbath time, so that we too may be renewed and restored.