Sabbath, Again

By Elizabeth Baumann

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 14:1-11

1 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the Sabbath, they were watching him closely. 2Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy. 3And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the Sabbath, or not?” 4But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away. 5 5 Then he said to them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a Sabbath day?” 6And they could not reply to this.

7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”


Already this week I have pondered the problem of Sabbath — the rule that God made early in the Old Testament that Jesus seems constantly to break. Sometimes, reality just dictates that Sabbath has to happen sort of here and there, rather than concentrated in 24 hours.

The danger, I’ve found, with the rather irregular pattern caused by reality is that it’s really hard to shift to rest when the opportunity presents itself. It’s so much easier to be carried along by the momentum and just keep doing things. Stopping can even be scary, because “to rest is an act of faith.” It means we trust that our value doesn’t reside in our accomplishments, that we believe we are worthy even when we aren’t doing anything.  If we aren’t used to stopping, it’s easy to forget that we are beloved by God just for being, and that’s exactly what we need most from Sabbath: to remember that we are rooted in the life of God, beloved because of everything that he has done and not because of anything we ever do.

Recently I’ve discovered a wonderful trick: don’t try to full stop; instead, wind down. Humans were made for liturgy. So create a little sequence for yourself that is your cue to slow down. Make yourself a cup of something, drink it, read a little. Then breathe and be still. Repeat it, and after a few times your brain will have learned.

If you have a wind-down, you can practice Sabbath even in the middle of busyness, even if only briefly. It’s a little buffer that enables you to become still so that once again you can know that he is God.

Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

Diocese of Rumbek (South Sudan), the Most Rev. Alapayo Manyang Kuctiel
Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands (West Indies), the Rt Rev. Laish Boyd
Diocese of Kwara (Nigeria), the Most Rev. Olusegun Adeyemi
Church of the Good Shepherd, Augusta, Georgia


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