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Spiritual matters

Take time for rest, family and friends

July 27, 2011 - It is already past mid-July, and summer is rushing by…again.

It always seems that there is so little time and so much to do during this brief period of warm, even hot this year, weather in Michigan. I know I so look forward to being able to relax, play and just be together with family and friends.

I also know that these times will not just happen. I have to "make" the time – literally carve it out of my busy life. I have to intentionally build such time into my schedule and priorities.

Our need to rest and be restored is not something optional. It is necessary. In fact I have discovered that it is built into the very fabric of our lives and it is the way God made us.

You may recall that in Genesis chapter one God spends six days busily creating everything. Then on the seventh day God rests. GOD RESTS!

Why do I sometimes act like I don't need to stop and rest? Do I really think that I can do without something that even God does do without?

The 3rd Commandment in Exodus 20 says, "Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work…"

I try my very best to observe the 10 Commandments, not so that God will love me any more than he already does, but so that I can lead a more healthy and joyful life.

However since Sunday is usually a pretty big work day for me, sabbath-keeping has always been a particular challenge.

Often my attempts to take another day of the week off fail. Perhaps you find it hard too – packing so many things in to those precious days off that you fail to really rest in God's love or take time to refocus.

The word holy means set aside for a special purpose or to dedicate to God.

God's call to rest by setting aside some holy sabbath time breaks our weekly patterns of busyness and achieving, expectations and productivity, competition and pressure.

We can lay aside our to-do lists and do something different.

One author suggests that: "If your week is filled with e-mails and telephone calls, turn both machines off for the day.

If your frantic schedule has you traveling all week, a sabbath at home will provide much-needed rest.

If you spend your week cooped up in an office, a sabbath walk in the woods or an afternoon at the park playing with the kids may be just the space you need."

Sabbath time brings renewal too. Renewal means making things that have become old and familiar new again.

It is a time for us especially to renew our relationships with others and with God.

In the New Testament Jesus sums up all the commandments in this way: "… you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12).

Taking sabbath time is really a way of following up on that oft spoken refrain, "We really should get together more often." Getting together with God and with others is not an optional, "if I can fit it in kind of thing."

Rather it is essential to our lives. Focusing attention on God (worship) and on others (sharing God's love) is what we were made to do, and it makes the rest of our days more meaningful and purposeful.

I hope you have a great summer…and I hope you will take some sabbath time to let God restore your heart and soul.

The Rev. Jonathan Heierman is pastor of Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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