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Reinvesting in Our Sabbath

by The Rev. Matt Wise on July 13, 2022

I’ve just noticed that NEISD begins school four weeks from today. That immediately triggers some anxiety and worry for me as a parent of soon-to-be first graders, and I automatically start making the to-do list. Plans must be made. Supplies must be purchased. Bedtime routines must begin starting MUCH earlier!
And then I remember that, while those are important and necessary things, they don’t get to rule my day, my calendar, my life. 
This Sunday marks roughly the midway point of our sabbatical time. We began eight weeks ago with the Rev. Mike Marsh’s reminder that we needed to let Rev. Beth go—that sending her and allowing her to leave us for a while was a continuation of the “yes” we uttered when we called her into the ministry of being our rector. Rev. Marsh also reminded us that this time of sabbatical is deeply important to us as we reconnect with one another through some out-of-the-ordinary gatherings and events. We’ve sabbath-rested together by ceasing some of our normal gatherings and spending time in retreat. We’ve sabbath-played together in several cooking classes, a hike or two, some gardening and butterfly workshops, and in the waves at Mustang Island. We have plenty of sabbatical activities remaining even as we gear up again for the fall and our new program year. At this halfway mark, I find it interesting that the lectionary (once again) provides. The Gospel for this coming Sunday offers a clear if not stern reminder that we are STILL in sabbath mode:
As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
We love to be busy. We equate busyness with success, with importance, with doing life “the right way.” Add to all that the weight of the world we’ve all been feeling politically and socially over these past several months—WHEW. That’s a lot.
And yet, both this sabbatical season and this Gospel text remind us that our to-do lists (while valid and even important) and our societal stress and anxiety (while valid and perhaps necessary for action) can often distract us from the most important things at hand.
On the seventh day, according to one of the creation stories in Genesis, God sabbathed. Not because God was tired and needed to put God’s feet up, but because God’s nature is first to create and then to revel in creation. And perhaps one of the most important things our community has been called to AT THIS TIME is to revel. To revel as a way of reconnecting. To revel as a source of hope. To revel in order to remind each other how to play and experience joy in this beloved community we have co-created with God.
We have been gifted with eight more weeks of sabbatical time. Perhaps this Sunday’s Gospel offers an invitation to re-affirm the “yes” we gave ourselves eight weeks ago and to reinvest ourselves in our communal sabbath.

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