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I am excited to share with you my review of Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World by Shelly Miller. Shelly is a veteran ministry leader and leads the Sabbath Society, an online community of people who want to make rest a priority.
Her writing has been featured in publications internationally. Shelly and her husband recently moved from the U.S. to London, England, where they resource church planting efforts. Learn more about Shelly at her web site.
Why Are You Holding This Book?
“Are you weary and heavy laden? Are you tired? Come, he says. I will show you my ways. I will give you true rest. This, I suggest, is why you’re holding this book now: to hear that voice, and heed it.” We read this in the forward by Mark Buchanan.
Let me share what I learned about Sabbath as I read this wonderful book:
“Isn’t this how we long to approach the weekend, satisfied with our work and ready for relaxation? Unfortunately, contentment in work that lends permission to rest seems elusive. Our work is never fully finished. And that’s why we don’t allow time for rest.”
It is difficult to unplug! We or I should say, I need to give myself permission to unplug. My work will be there on Monday when I return. During my centering prayer practice I ever so gently ‘let go’ with the use of my sacred interior icon. I need to do the same thing as I approach the weekend. I must ‘let go’ of the past week and not worry about what I will face the upcoming week. I need to give myself permission to rest!
Guilt: A Roadblock
“Guilt is one of the main road blocks for making Sabbath a reality.” There is too much work that needs to get done. I need to catch up on work emails. I must clean the house. I have to write or read.
God does not wish me to feel guilty. God has given me the Sabbath as a gift. You must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you. (Exodus 16.29)
Jesus Is Sabbath
“Jesus is Sabbath.” What a simple but true statement! Let me say it again. Jesus is Sabbath! Wow! During my centering prayer practice I ever so gently let go of all thoughts, emotions and even physical sensations. I sit with Jesus and rest. During centering prayer Jesus is my Sabbath.
During centering prayer I let Jesus be my Sabbath. “Sabbath is weekly preparation and anticipation for making space in our lives for Christ to come.” This is what I do during centering prayer. I make space for Christ to come!
“What Can I Do For You?”
“When you are tired, depleted, worn out, and weary, imagine Jesus asking, “what do you want me to do for you?” I often forget to do this. Jesus wants me to release my burdens and worries to him. Jesus loves me! Jesus wants to know what he can do for me. Jesus says come sit silently with me and I will give you the rest you need.
“Most of us don’t spend time thinking about how a day of rest might look in a busy week.” Even if I cannot take a full day, what will two or three hours of rest look like? I might turn off my cell phone, iPad and computer. I can sip coffee and talk with my wife. I might enjoy a good movie with the children.
It is spring, let’s take a leisurely walk in the neighborhood. I might just sit in the family room and let the kids come in and out and talk to me as they please. “Laugh, play, watch a movie, and give yourself permission for feasting.” What will you do with a day or even a few hours of rest?
The Life Raft
“Sabbath is a life raft Jesus extends to us every week to prevent us from drowning in our work.” Do you accept this invitation? My centering prayer practice is a daily raft that Jesus extends to me. In the middle of the work day I stop what I do. It does not matter how busy I am. I walk to my car and take a silent sit. I return to my desk refreshed. I am ready to finish the day. I no longer feel like I am drowned in my work.
Christ Will Rise Within
“We must rest in order for him to rise within us.” This is what happens when we take the time for Sabbath. This is what happens when I take the time to sit with Jesus during my centering prayer practice. The Christ within is love and compassion in action during my non-Sabbath times. It is during Sabbath and centering prayer that I am refreshed and refilled with Christ’s love that is ready to be shared with others.
“Have you trained yourself to pause? Do you pay attention to your heart, warning you it’s time to slow down?” This is so important! Why is it important? “When I give time away to God first, I have the capacity to give myself and resources away to others joyfully.”
I will go back and re read this beautiful book. I am sure I will discover new ways to appreciate the gift of Sabbath that God has given to me. “Jesus is Sabbath.” Let me say it once again, Jesus is Sabbath!
Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World by Shelly Miller
The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton
Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now by Walter Brueggemann
Contemplative Discernment by Fr. Carl Arico, Pamela Begeman, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler: A contemplative practice of discernment is not about decision-making, although this may be an eventual outcome. Rather, contemplative discernment is receptive in nature, a process of opening to receive clues about who we are in God. We focus on ever-deepening levels of relationship and trust in God’s will for us. We learn how to listen deeply to our motivations and sort through and purify any mixed motivations. As this relationship deepens, we learn to allow the love of God to motivate our actions and manifest through us. We discover what it means to truly pray “not my will, but Thy will.”
Embracing Living: The Welcoming Prayer by Contemplative Outreach, Mary Dwyer, Therese Saulnier, Cherry Haisten, Jim McElroy: The Welcoming Prayer is a method of consenting to God’s presence and action in our physical and emotional reactions to events and situations in daily life. If Centering Prayer (or another daily prayer) is practiced for one hour of the day, the Welcoming Prayer is for the other 23 hours. It is a “letting go” in the present moment, in the midst of the activity of ordinary life.
Practicing the Presence of God by Pamela Begeman, Mary Ann Brussat, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, David Frenette: We live in a world of complexity, fragmentation, noise, and haste. We sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of tasks, appointments, and commitments facing us. How can we experience God in the midst of the busyness, responsibilities, and activities of our daily lives? By practice. By living more in the present moment. By practicing the presence of God in the present moment.
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