“He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man. Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.” –Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel,
Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent, and the 4th Sunday of Celtic Advent, and I am thinking about what it means to wait as I read the newspaper (yes, I still read a ‘real’ newspaper) and watch television. I cringe at the headlines of impeachment, of children being incarcerated simply because they are children not like us, and promotions for stuff no one actually needs. So much competition for our attention, our money, and our souls, how can we cope with it all.
God created Sabbath for us to rest, not just our bodies, but our spirits, our hearts, our very beings. Advent was begun as a time set aside for meditation, prayer, and fasting in preparation for hope, not unlike time set aside for Sabbath. Advent is a time of Sabbath giving us time to re-member the hope within each of us, to remember the image of God that resides inside our hearts, souls and minds. Advent and Sabbath are times where we are able to re-claim God’s ownership of our hearts and souls.
For me it is difficult meshing the idea of Sabbath rest with what I read in the paper or see on the news. My spirit waits for the love and the light that is coming, yet my eyes see only the darkness of greed and hate. I hear people who claim to be people of faith calling children of god evil, not worthy of life, and letting them die in cages. I read the words of politicians who claim that offering food stamps to hungry people is a waste of time and keeps them on welfare. I can’t fathom how these people can stand in their “churches” and hear the words of the Carpenter “what you do to the least of these you do to me” and still do what they do.
We who believe in the Gospel, who listen in wonder at the feet of this gentle Rabbi, just as Mary did, have much work to do to repair the damage of those who deny Love. Sabbath rest, Sabbath prayer, Sabbath meditation are the tools we use to gather strength, courage and wisdom to counter hate, greed, and power. It is in resting with God, being with God that we are strong.
Advent is a time of waiting and rest, and as such it is a Sabbath set aside to listen for the heartbeat of God and synchronize our lives with the life given us by the spirit. In the spirit of Sabbath hold on to the quiet, let go of the commercial, gather love and send it forth to heal a wounded world, open your heart to the light and let it be a beacon in the darkness.
Ruth Jewell, ©December 8, 2019