Some thoughts on the Sabbath

sabbath-rest

Sabbath – to cease from work, to rest.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” Exodus 20:8

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” (Gen 1:31, Gen 2:1-3)

“Jesus prayed; he withdrew from the material senses to refresh his heart with brighter, with spiritual views” (Eddy, Science and Health, p. 32).

“The consciousness of Truth rests us more than hours of repose in unconsciousness” (Eddy, Science and Health, p. 218).

“God rests in action. Imparting has not impoverished, can never impoverish, the divine Mind. No exhaustion follows the action of this Mind, according to the apprehension of divine Science. The highest and sweetest rest, even from a human standpoint, is in holy work” (Eddy, Science and Health, p. 25)

Modern theologian Walter Brueggemann explains the Sabbath as the “resistance to anxiety” and “the refusal to be identified by productivity”

Brueggemann argues that the acceptance of the Israelites of the Ten Commandment was an acceptance of a regime change. It was a change from the rule of Pharaoh to the rule of YHWH. This new regime was not based on anxiety, cruelty and fear but rest, love and confidence in God to supply all good.

The 4th Commandment in song

Brueggemann Sabbath justice, beyond Pharaoh. (this video starts at the 24-minute mark)

Advertisements

Christmas, New Year and the expectation of good.

© Skutvik | Dreamstime.com – New Year 2015 Decoration Photo

 

As the Christmas hustle and bustle quietens down I have had some time to contemplate the spiritual connection between Christmas and New Year.

The first verse of a poem written by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of my faith Christian Science, came to mind.

O blessings infinite!
O glad New Year
Sweet sign and substance
Of God’s presence here (Miscellany. p354)

Here I found the connection. For me both Christmas and New Year are a time for giving thanks for the good already received and the promise of good to come.

At Christmas I acknowledge and celebrate the presence of the Christ, “the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (Science and Health p332). Jesus was the best example of how this Christ operated in humanity. He showed that this Christ was God’s perpetual gift of Love, available throughout all time and to all peoples.

New Year is not so much a time to looking back with nostalgia but, like Christmas, an opportunity to give thanks for evidence of the Christ, God’s gift of Love, over the past year and eagerly expect evidence of its presence in the future.

A blog by Terry Shoemaker showed how nostalgia in relation to Christmas can result in the belief that Christmas is under siege from other faiths or multiculturalism and that religious traditions associated with Christmas are being lost. Known as the ‘War on Christmas’ this thinking is based on fear and the perception that the past was grander, safer and holier. It imagines a battle between those of the Christian faith and others and would justify denigration of other faiths.

In contrast to this is Shoemaker’s understanding of Advent. Although it references the historical event of Jesus’ birth its emphasis is on the future, on potentiality, possibility and the expectation of good. This type of thinking encourages us to strive towards the elimination of religious violence, social injustices and inequalities. Advent does not dwell on the past but embraces the promise of a better tomorrow.

As we approach the New Year I hope you will join me in focusing our thinking on the qualities of Advent, the promise of God’s presence here now and in the future. As we look forward with an expectation of good I believe we encourage a basis of thinking that would result in a more just and equitable future for all with blessings infinite.

A promise for now and the future.

Dove background

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science writes in her major work Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.”

This is not only a promise for the future but something I can strive for, as an individual, right now. As I work towards gaining a better understanding of God as infinite good I can demonstrate, by degree, my unity with and love for my fellow man. I can overcome the wrongs or prejudices that may be directed towards me or others. I can experience healing of sickness that would argue that I am cursed as a sinner and made materially rather than spiritually in the image of Life, Truth, Love, Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle — seven synonyms for God.

For me this quote is not saying that everyone needs to be a Christian Scientist or even that everyone needs to be Christian. It is the understanding of “one infinite God, good” that unites us rather than a specific faith or denomination.

Although Jesus’ disciples where Jewish and he sent them to the “lost sheep of Israel” he did not confine his teaching and healing to those only of his faith— Jewish. He taught and healed all those who had a yearning to learn, whether they were Jew or Gentile. God is “the Alpha and Omega, the centre and circumference” (Eddy, 1887, Unity of Good, p10) in Christian Science theology. Therefore God’s loving embrace for all of his creation is all-sufficient, all-pervading and available to all. Jesus’ words and works epitomised this love.

One of my favourite Bible verses is from Micah 4:5 “For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever”. This verse immediately follows God’s promise to the people of Israel that “nation shall not take up sword against nation” and that “none shall make them afraid”. Although this verse was directed through the prophet Micah to the Jewish people, and it is often interpreted as though the promise was only for them due to other nations worshipping false gods, I like to think of this verse in this way — as each of us strives to honestly understand and practice the spiritual essence of our different traditions we will see God’s promise realised in our own personal experience and collectively in humanity as a whole. Mary Baker Eddy assures as that when we realize God’s omnipotence and the healing power of divine Love, in what it has done and is doing for mankind, the promises will be fulfilled. (Science and Health p55)