“Why Slow Down?”
Sadie Wohlfahrt, Children’s Minister
Last week, we recognized our habitual thoughts and behaviors- we named our “horses.” We realized we tend to gallop through life, barely slowing down to breathe or reflect or learn from each other. It is time to prune, so that we make room for those activities.
Jesus taught a lot of lessons with agricultural examples- he knew his audience well. In the gospel of John we hear about the importance of abiding in God through the lesson of the grape vine. “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Fun fact about plants (first time I’ve ever written that): a grapevine’s branches are pruned, or cut away, for the first three years of the plant’s life, to give its trunk enough time to grow strong enough to bear fruit. They literally aren’t allowed to grow fruit until their foundation is strong enough.
Have we strengthened our “core” through regular rest and abiding in the Lord- or is the fruit we bear, too heavy to hold?
What do we need to prune, in order to make room for our own Sabbath?
Sabbath is the biblical idea of rest. We see its importance right away in the creation story: on the sixth day God created humankind and on the seventh God rested. Our first full day with our creator was a day of rest. From this we learn that we are to work from our rest, rather than rest from our work. We begin by scheduling Sabbath each week, and schedule everything else around it.
This concept is reinforced in the Ten Commandments. “Honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” It almost seems out of place, doesn’t it? Don’t murder anyone, don’t cheat on your wife…take a day off every week? “One of these things is not like the other.” In his book Building A Discipling Culture, Mike Breen asserts that Sabbath is in God’s top ten, because being a workaholic is akin to slow suicide; we are working ourselves to death. If we are trying to pour from an empty cup, we will quickly find ourselves useless to the kingdom. And if we don’t begin our work week from a place of stillness with God, how do we even know what we are to be working on the remainder of the week anyway?
We see in Jesus’s own life the beautiful rhythm of rest and work. At some of the busiest moments in his ministry, we read that he steps away. At the height of the crowds, he would get into a boat and shove off, or climb a mountain and pray. A lot of us today have this crazy idea stuck in our heads that if we walk away– if we turn off the cell phone, or put the out-of-office-reply on the email, everything will crash and burn. Let’s be clear: Jesus had only three years and 12 really average dudes with which to change the world, and he still regularly walked away. Your office will not fall apart.
So how do we get it? How do we regularly rest? How do we reclaim our Sabbath?
More on that next Tuesday.
Grace. Grace. Grace,