Sabbath & Time

It’s just another form of getting our agenda accomplished, whether that agenda is accomplishing tasks alternative to our work or simply relaxing…. When our lives are saturated in the unhurried rhythm of worship that is inherent of Sabbath-time, then we can engage in all rhythms of our lives in ordinary time with God’s life.

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I suffer from time pathologies. There I said it. It’s out in the open. For those who aren’t sure what time pathologies are, let me lay down some definitions.

Time Pressure — the perception that there is insufficient time to accomplish a specific task, which leads to subsequent feelings of anxiety and tension.

Time Urgency — the frequent experience of time pressure with a corresponding conviction that one needs to hurry or speed up the rate at which one is doing things. This is fueled by the rationale, “I must work faster to get everything done.”

Hurried Sickness — severe and chronic feelings of time urgency that have brought about changes affecting personality and lifestyle. It is a continuous struggle to accomplish or achieve more and more in less and less time.

Time Pathologies — the toxic continuum of disordered behaviors, perceptions and states running the gamut from mild time urgency to severe hurried sickness.

I just finished listening to Eugene Peterson speak on time on Regent Radio. I need to go back and listen to it again and again. He says he is taking the creation story of Genesis 1 very seriously. For him, it has become very instructional to living in God’s life. Here are a some of thoughts that emerge from his lecture.

There is a significant connection between the creation account and the Ten Commandments — keeping the Sabbath. The natural rhythm of God’s creative work is linked to how he expects his people to live. The Sabbath is special time, fulfilled time. God rested after creating. Humans enter into God’s re-creative work (Israel’s vocation) through the Sabbath. Or to get really geeky, the Sabbath is the temporal portal to God’s kingdom. It’s this special time, fulfilled time (kairos) that infects ordinary time (chronos).

Too often, we have it backwards. We try to participate in God’s work, hurrying and scurrying until we are exhausted and burned-out. Then we take time off and call it Sabbath. But time-off is utilitarian. It’s just another form of getting our agenda accomplished, whether that agenda is accomplishing tasks alternative to our work or simply relaxing. Sabbath is different. It is access into God’s kingdom.

When our lives are saturated in the unhurried rhythms of worship and reflection that are inherent of Sabbath-time, then we can engage in all the rhythms of our lives in ordinary time with God’s life. Sabbath, as a way of life, becomes the foundation for the vocation of God’s people — implementing the new creation.

3 thoughts on “Sabbath & Time

  1. I struggle a great deal with hurry, being unrested (through internal pressures) and I’ve found in in practicing silence and solitude that there is no magic formual for reproducing the kind of Sabbath rest I have experienced a few times. I often try to “make it happen” without slowing down enough for it to happen.

  2. Hi Sam. I’ve found the same to be true in my life. There isn’t a magical formula that generates an experience. But God’s grace is constantly available whether we “feel” it or not. Like you said, we need to slow down enough for the grace available through silence and solitude to do its work. Our part is to ruthlessly remove hurriedness from our lives.

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