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Aug 31 2012

Grace and Gratitude

“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a Sabbath to the Lord.”
— Leviticus 25:2

Sabbath is God’s gift. It is a particular way that God honors the divine image in each of us and in all of God’s creative wonder. It is an expression of love. Sabbath is the space and time of liberation, a break in the relentless tyrannies of production and “usefulness”. Jesus says that Sabbath was created as a deep expression of God’s giving; it is for us (we are not for it!)

A particularly interesting priority in the Hebrew Scriptures is “Sabbath for the land”. Fields were to be sown and harvested for six years; but on the seventh year they were to lay fallow. The land would rest. It still produced abundant, surprising fruit and life, but the yield would not be managed according to “business as usual”. God’s nourishment was available in new and broader ways. And this honoring of the land as God’s gift meant that the land would be fertile and God’s promises fulfilled for many years to come.

As this summer draws to completion, I give thanks to God for this particular season and how God satisfies our needs through it. The longer I am in ministry, the more I perceive particular expressions of Sabbath in the summer.

Summer breaks the blessed (but sometimes relentless) “production” of Worship services and Sunday School classes and densely scheduled activities. We worship in a different rhythm. There is fresh opportunity to honor the “territory” that God has blessed us with! Attendance at worship is more intentional, and at the same time a bit more relaxed. We are less likely to be running from something to something else. There may be more “Sabbath in the Sabbath” over the summer, I suspect. This is a wonderful manifestation of grace!

This season I have rejoiced in the opportunity to savor the many special musical offerings, and God’s gift of the people who offered them! I have loved the narratives of David that we have explored together in very personal ways, and the expanded room for people’s reflections, contributions, and inspirations. I was humbled and gratified by the Spirit’s movement in the Healing Service: so much of Jesus’ touch!

We are active in particular ways during the summer. Vacation Bible School, celebrated in partnership with St. Paul’s UCC this year, was glorious. The Teens Acting for Peace Workshop at Norris Square was a revelation. The Urban Cupboard fulfilled in the face some obstacles, was a special manifestation of communion. Our sense of mission was, if anything deepened. There was congregational joy in gathering backpacks and supplies for students needing them. Who was more blessed? The truth is, everybody has been blessed. And in all of these relationships, God’s economy of gracious love is realized!

Aid for Friends, Fellowship Hour, Basket of Blessing, a full Bible Study, welcomers and ushers, and many other aspects of “our cup running over” were ongoing and, for the Pastor, more visible in the blessings they offer God.

And I pray that all of us have had time away this Summer to renew and to honor and to cherish all that God has given us that is quite beyond our capacity to produce! As we enter a Fall season anticipating Rally Day and Sunday School, our wonderful Choirs and the opportunity to receive God’s promises anew, let us not rush! Let’s take time, individually and together, to express our gratitude to God for the ways that God has reverenced the “territory” entrusted to us, poured out the oil of gladness upon us, and “Sabbathed” us in preparation for the coming fulfillment!

Pastor Scott's Signature

Pastor Scott’s Archived Messages