Note to followers of PT’s Passing Thoughts: I apologize for my lack of posting. In December of 2012 I decided to accept a position as a Church Development Consultant with Miller Architects and Builders in St. Cloud, Minnesota. This postion meant leaving the wonderful call of serving Fields of Grace Parish in Rural Lafayette, Minnesota. Since that time I have been able to return to parish ministry on a part time basis as Associate Pastor for Stewardship Development at First Lutheran Church in St. James, Minnesota. I was approached this past weekend by a follower of PT’s Passing Thoughts who wondered if I was just going to post once every 6 months. I assured him, that I would get back to it soon. So after a hiatus, here is a new Passing Thought…
Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, so that your ox and your donkey may have relief, and your homeborn slave and the resident alien may be refreshed”. Exodus 23:12
It had been so long, I almost forgot what it was like. The “it” I am referring to is leading worship. Having spent just a little time off from pastoral duties, I had wondered to myself, if I had it in me anymore? Happily, I am able to report, that the ember of the spirit was still glowing and all it took was a fresh breath of wind to bring it back to a kindle. When the service of installation was completed, I felt alive, refreshed, and renewed. Thank you to Pastor Christian Johnson and the members of First Lutheran Church in St. James, Minnesota for being part of returning me to the spiritual practice of Sabbath Keeping.
The word Sabbath comes to us from the Hebrew word “Shabbot” which can be translated at to “cease or desist”. After accomplishing the perfection of creations, God suspended all other work, evaluated that which was created, “it was very good” and then “ceased” working and rested. Sabbath is such an important concept, that God gave it to the children of Israel as a covenant gift. “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy…For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.” Exodus 20:8,11 This rest can and does come to us as a gift. It is a time of “ceasing” from the busyness of the week, and centering oneself and the relationship God has established with us.
In the brief time I was away from serving as a pastor, I had too quickly forgotten the balance of “ceasing and centering”. The ceasing part was easy to get use to, but I got off balance on the centering side of the scale. That is not to say that I was a “church skipper”, I actually found myself in worship services as part of my work with Miller Architects and Builders, but I was often distracted from worship because it wasn’t my primary reason for being present. When I was able to attend worship for the purpose of “ceasing and centering” the experiences were great. Those experiences brought to mind this scripture, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” Psalm 122:1
Now some of you might be thinking, “but as a pastor, worshiping is part of your work.” In one sense that is true, but in a much greater sense, walking with the body of Christ as a worship leader, I find a sense of refreshment and renewal in worship. The work of worship (if you can call it that) is a grateful response to the blessed gift of rest, refreshment, and renewal. In this time of summer relaxation and refreshment, I hope that you will find your “ceasing and centering” balance point so that you may proclaim: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Just Another Passing Thought!