Sabbath Rest: Monday Monologues (podcast), October 18, 2021

Stephen_HIemstra_20210809

 By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflect on Sabbath Rest as a spiritual discipline. After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Sabbath Rest: Monday Monologues (podcast), October 18, 2021

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

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Prayer Day 47

 

A Christian Guide to Spirituality: Foundations for Disciples
A Christian Guide to Spirituality: Foundations for Disciples

 

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Gracious Father,

Rest with us. Grant us the energy to care.

Let us focus a day each week on being your people and modeling your love to those around us.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Prayer Day 47

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

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Why Sabbath Rest?

Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality

“the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” (Matt 12:8)

What is the first sin in the Bible?

The typical response is that the first sin occurred when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:6). An alternative interpretation points out that although Adam and Eve were created in Genesis 1, when God rests on the first Sabbath in Genesis 2 they are not mentioned (Feinberg 1998, 16). The first sin in scripture is then argued to be a sin of omission (not doing good). It occurred when of Adam and Eve refused to participate in Sabbath rest. It was as if God threw a party and they refused to come.

After that, the sin in Genesis escalated from disrespect into open rebellion. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve commit their first sin of commission (doing evil). In Genesis 4, Cain kills Abel and Lamech takes revenge. In Genesis 5, Noah—the man who rested in Hebrew—is born (Feinberg 1998, 28).  In Genesis 6, God tells Noah to build an ark because he planned to send a flood in response to the depth of human corruption and sin. After the flood, only Noah and his family remained, a re-creation event (Kline 2006, 221–27). 

This interpretation is echoed in the New Testament where the kingdom of God is compared to a wedding. Jesus tells an enigmatic parable of a king who held a wedding banquet for his son. When the banquet was ready, the king sent his servants to inform his guests. But, instead of responding to the reminder, many of the intended guests ignored the invitation while others committed acts of violence, even murder, against the king’s servants. The climax to this story comes in verse 7: “The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” (Matt 22:7)

If we treat Sabbath rest as a foretaste of the kingdom of God, this parable can be an allegory to the first sin, in which Adam and Eve refused God’s invitation to join him in the first Sabbath. The original sin, according to this interpretation, was the contemptuous rejection of God’s generous invitation on the seventh day. The fact that the parable of the wedding feast is a parable of judgment is an emphatic reminder that God really wants us to rest with Him.

Sabbath rest is important enough to God that it is the fourth and the longest of the Ten Commandments given to Moses (Exod 20:8–11). Why was it important to the Jewish people? Free people rest; slaves work. The experience of slavery in Egypt and later in Babylon was a reminder that rest is a privilege not always enjoyed.

Are we a free people? Do we rest? Do we rest with God?

Jesus described himself as the Lord of the Sabbath, not to do away with it, but to refocus it on God’s desire for our lives. Sabbath rest is a gateway to the other spiritual disciplines because it makes the other disciplines easier to pursue. Rested people have the energy to care. Exhausted people struggle to care for God and for their neighbors.

Confusion about Sabbath arises, in part, because the Jewish Sabbath was the last day of the week, while Christians celebrated Sabbath on the first day of the week (Chan 2006, 81). Pastors and others who  must work Sundays often designate another day as their Sabbath and inform their family and friends. The point is to consecrate a day each week to honor and rest with God.

Why Sabbath Rest?

Also see:

Preface to A Christian Guide to Spirituality

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

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Sabbath: Monday Monologues (podcast) July 12, 2021

Stephen_W_Hiemstra_20200125b

 By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflect on Sabbath. After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Sabbath: Monday Monologues (podcast) July 12, 2021

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

 

 

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Prayer Day 34

Available on Amazon.com

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Compassionate Father, Lover of our souls, Holy Spirit.

Draw us to yourself: Open our hearts; Illumine our thoughts; Strengthen our hands in your service.

Grant us rest with you today and every day.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer Day 34

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

   
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Keep The Sabbath Holy (Fourth Commandment)

Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deut 5:12-15)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

The divine origin of the Sabbath is well-attested in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, it is the only commandment that appears also in the creation account and it is also the longest commandment—an indicator of emphasis. In the New Testament, Jesus refers to himself as the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt 12:8; Luke 6:5) and performs several miracles specifically on the Sabbath. Why all this attention to the Sabbath?

A key to understanding Sabbath is found in Hebrews 4, which list four aspects of Sabbath rest: physical rest, weekly Sabbath rest, rest in the Promised Land, and heavenly rest—our return to the Garden of Eden.

Physical rest is underrated by many Christians. Jesus says: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28) How are we to love God and love our neighbors when we are physically exhausted all the time? Sabbath rest allows us to build the physical, emotional, and spiritual capacity to experience God and to have compassion for our neighbors.

We see a clue to this interpretation of Sabbath when we compare the Exodus and Deuteronomy renderings of the Fourth Commandment. Deuteronomy adds the sentence: “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” (Deut 5:15) Free people rest; slaves work. Are we, Americans, truly free? Sabbath rest is a symbol of our Christian freedom.

The Promised Land, promised rest (Ps 95:11), heaven, and the new Eden (Rev 22:2) all display and reinforce Sabbath imagery. The image of our Divine Shepherd is one who gives heavenly rest: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” (Ps 23:2) Sadly, this poetic image of rest only seems to come up at funerals. Why not start now?

Keep The Sabbath Holy (Fourth Commandment)

Also see:

Preface to A Christian Guide to Spirituality

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 
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Vaughn: Cherishing Time God’s Way

Ellen Vaughn, Time Peace
 

Ellen Vaughn.  2007.  Time Peace: Living Here and Now with a Timeless God.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra [1]

Ellen Vaughn starts her book, Time Peace, with a question:  How can an earth-bound person really connect with an eternal God? Does God’s Shalom rub off on the people we meet every day or are we afflicted with hurry sickness? (16-17)  If our lives are deprived of Shalom and dominated by hurry sickness, what can be done about it?

Ellen segments the time problem into 4 parts:

  1. Experiencing Time;
  2. Managing Time;
  3. Re-viewing Time:  A New Paradigm; and
  4. Enjoying Time.

God’s perspective on time is different than ours. God manages time; time manages us.  For us, a wristwatch serves as a kind of virtual handcuff (61).  God is eternal and the stars serve as his wrist-watch (Job 9:3-9; 19).

The biblical notion of stewardship: doesn’t really strike a cord with many 21-century Americans (74). Ellen asks: whether we live to the age of of 34 or 104, how do we use the time we are given? (77)  The biblical view of time (stewardship) is in strong tension with our everyday experience of time (the wristwatch)?

Reviewing many details of quantum physics, Ellen notes that science does not seem to explain the created universe as neatly as we learned in high school.  She remarks:

I do find it interesting that in the Bible…that is thousands of years old…[it] casually makes claims that seem to jibe with what is intimated in the weird world of 21st century quantum physics (187).

When we experience the eternal God, God must deliberately break into our time-bound world to touch our lives.  We experience God’s intrusion as a kairos momenta Greek word describing a moment of crisis and decision [2].  Our usual experience of timechronos time as measure by our watchesis not nearly so threatening.

In evaluating how to enjoy time, Ellen asks:  How do we seize the moment and invest time to extend God’s kingdom? (206)

In her book, Time Peace, Ellen’s writing craft is displayed in at least 4 dimensions:

  1. She does her homework. In researching time as a topic, she reviewed film, time management books, scripture, and scientific literature. I suspect that she also did a number of interviews.
  2. She paints wonderful mental pictures and tells numerous stories. I will never forget her lesson on the six deadly sins and how they relate to Gilligan’s Island (8) [3].
  3. She is willing to take theological and intellectual risks. Most Luke commentaries do not offer alternative readings of the Mary and Martha story. Likewise, I suspect that most English majors do not write extensively on Einstein’s theory of relativity and string theory.
  4. She throws curve balls in her prose. I doubt, for example, that she really sits much on the beach throwing alka seltzer tablets in the air to the sea gulls, but the thought is interesting.

Time Peace is perceptive, theologically engaging, and witty. Small groups will want to look at it for study and discussion.

Footnotes

[1]  Ellen Vaughn (www.EllenVaughn.com) is a local author who I met in 2007 at a meeting of the Capital Christian Writers Club (www.CapitalChristianWriters.org).

[2] I was personally touched by her story about Vicky Armel, a police officer gunned down for no apparent reason within walking distance of my home in Centreville, Virginia.  Only 2 years prior to her death, Vicky unexpectedly committed her life to Christa kairos moment. Her testimony was recorded on Easter Sunday.  Vicky accordingly had the rare privilege of addressing her own funeral via video tape (183-185).

[3] Ellen writes:  Students of the show advance the theory that the Professor exhibits the deadly sin of pride…Ginger, the lascivious movie star, represents lust.  Envy goes to Maryann who wanted to be Ginger. Thurston Howell the Third, who took a large trunck full of money on a three-hour cruise, is greed.  Since Mrs Howell never did much of anything at all, she is sloth…We are left with the sins of anger and gluttony, and the mad and corpulent Skipper personifies them both (88).

Vaughn: Cherishing Time God’s Way

Also see:

Wicks Seeks Availability Deepens Faith

Books, Films, and Ministry

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

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Prayer Day 10

Available on Amazon.com
by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Loving Father, Beloved Son, Holy Spirit.

We praise you for sharing yourself with us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth and stepping into history.

Your silent suffering on the cross shouts your love into our fallen world.

Thank you for modeling a perfect life; bearing our sins on the cross; and granting us resurrection peace.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer Day 10

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

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Sabbath Rest as Cultural Firewall by Brueggemann

Brueggemann_review_20200702

Walter Brueggemann.  2014.  Sabbath as Resistance:  Saying NO to the Culture of Now.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

One of the characteristics of the period since the demise of the Bretton Woods System in 1971 and reduction in barriers to international trade has been the increasing importance of the law of one price.  From economic trade theory, the law of one prices says that only one price for a commodity can exist in an open market economy, adjusting for shipping, storage, and policy interventions.

The law of one price hypothesizes that the price of a Big Mac should be the same worldwide.  The same is true for wages and salaries.  Because everyone competes with everyone else, no one relaxes (enjoys healthcare, summer vacations, a clean environment, a spouse at home with the kids, and so on) without losing competitive advantage.  The market is the formidable taskmaster.

Introduction

In his discussion of Sabbath rest in the Pentateuch, Walter Brueggemann offers a fairly sophisticated understanding of Moses’ response to the market’s devaluation of human life.  Under penalty of death (Numbers 15:32-35), nobody, no way, works on the Sabbath provided a cultural alternative (xiv) to Pharaoh’s relentless pursuit of wealth.   Bruggemann writes:  YHWH governs as an alternative to Pharoah, there the restfulness of YHWH effectively counters the restless anxiety of Pharaoh (xiii).  Sabbath rest appears in the creation accounts because God balances work and rest.  The Egyptian gods, by contrast, never rested (5).

Pharaoh Versus Moses

Today we would call Moses’ Sabbath rest prescription a government-sanctioned monopoly.  Brueggemann (3) observes that:  the God of Sinai…is never simply a “religious figure” but is always preoccupied with…socioeconomic practice and policy.  Because no one works on the Sabbath, no one can chisel—cheat and make more money by quietly disobeying the law.  Sabbath rest defines the ultimate human right—the right to live a humane life.  Because exhausted people only think about themselves—they neither love God nor their neighbor (contra Matthew 22:36-40), Sabbath rest is a cultural firewall against market intrusion into family, community, and religious life.  For this reason, Sabbath rest is the only creation mandate also found among the Ten Commandments and, as the fourth commandment, it is also the longest (27).  This means that the Bible treats it as an emphatic commandment!

In contrasting the YHWH economy with Pharaoh’s economy, Brueggemann provides an interesting insight into the Ten Commandments.  Those who keep the Sabbath need not:

  • Dishonor mother and father,
  • Kill,
  • Commit adultery,
  • Steal,
  • Bear false witness, or
  • Covet (31).

In other words, do detestable things for the sake of money.  The unending race to pursue wealth (or defend one’s lifestyle) normally pushes us individually and collectively to neglect or break these commandments—the law of one price has led us to chisel on each one of these commandments in recent years.

Organization

Brueggemann’s short book (89 pages) breaks into six chapters, including:

  1. Sabbath and the First Commandment;
  2. Resistance to Anxiety (Exodus 20:12-17);
  3. Resistance to Coercion (Deuteronomy 5:12-14);
  4. Resistance to Exclusivism (Isaiah 56:3-8);
  5. Resistance to Multitasking (Amos 8:4-8); and
  6. Sabbath and the Tenth Commandment (vii).

These chapters are preceded by a detailed preface which serves as a helpful introduction.

Assessment

While some might chide Brueggemann for offering a political analysis of the Pentateuch, it is more correct to say that wherever two or more are gathered together politics will be present!  By contrast, if the Pentateuch is spiritualized, it can easily be recast to suit one’s own prejudices.  For example, Brueggemann notes that the Pentateuch attends vigorously to the triad of vulnerability—widows, orphans, and immigrants (44).  How do we treat them today?  Today we might refer to them with labels—welfare queens, the unwanted unborn, and the undocumented—inviting scorn rather than assistance.  Judged by the Law of Moses, we fail.  Grace always allows us to be forgiven, but the Gospel in Jesus Christ fulfills the law—it does not repeal it!

Brueggemann’s book is probably the most important book on Sabbath rest since Abraham Heschel’s The Sabbath (New York:  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005).  I hope that Christians will read and act on it.

Sabbath Rest as Cultural Firewall by Brueggemann

Also see:

Nouwen: Make Space for Self, Others, and God 

Vanhoozer: How Do We Understand the Bible? Part 1 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Norm2020

 

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Sabbath Prayer

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101By Stephen W. Hiemstra

 

Lord of the Sabbath,

We praise you for creating us and placing us in a beautiful world, for enabling us work to support our families, and for allowing us time to rest.

In this weary world, teach us to rest and to offer hospitality to those around us.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, help us to be humble like salt, that flavors, preserves, and graces every table and to radiate your light when darkness threatens to overwhelm.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Sabbath Prayer

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Lent_2020  

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