Series: Creating a Culture of Generosity
1. Practicing Sabbath as Stewardship
Genesis 1:31 – 2:4a
Pray: Calm our fears and our discomfort; ease our minds so that we may be fully present to hear your word, and to know your teaching. Amen.
When was the last time you had a break? Some of you may be good at taking vacation, taking time for yourself, taking care of your spirit, but my guess is all of us push a little harder than we should. What’s the phrase, no pain, no gain? We work so hard to push eight days of work in to seven days of time, we never settle down. For some of us I think this is a matter of trying to keep up with an ever growing workload, and a culture that says there is never enough. For others I believe there is a fear that if we slow down for a minutes we might never be able to keep up again. Still for others, there is a mission to fulfill what has been instilled in you as the only way to be, busy. I wonder what would happen if we all started to practice Sabbath?
Let’s look for a few moments at the creation story of Genesis 1. God creates the world from a dark and formless void. First God creates light and calls it day, and separates it from darkness, which God calls night. God looks at this creation and delights in what he has made, wow! And there is evening and then morning, the first day is complete. On the second day God creates a dome and calls it sky and it separates the waters below from the waters above and God steps back and looks at what she has created and delights in it. Wow! The second day is complete. On the third day this pattern continues, God creates land and vegetation, God delights in what it has done, wow! There is evening and morning the third day. Then on the fourth day God creates the lights in the sky, the sun, the moon, and the stars, to coincide with day one’s light and darkness. He delights in what he has done, wow! Evening and morning the fourth day. On the fifth day, God creates the first creatures. They coincide with day two, creatures that swim in the seas and fly in the sky. She delights in what she has done, wow! The fifth day. And on the final day of work God creates the creatures that fill the earth to coincide with day three. And on this day, the sixth day, God creates humanity in it’s own image. This time God steps back and is really impressed so it really delights in creation saying, really, really WOW! And there is evening and there is morning, the sixth day is complete.
As humans, we tend to focus on our own creation when we read this story. We tend to think of humanity as the pinnacle of this story, the best part. After all, it was only after God’s creation of humanity that God said, tov maov, really, really wow! But in traditional Hebrew writing it is when there is a break in the pattern that we should be paying attention. Day six is still a part of the pattern. It is day seven that breaks the mold. Hold on to that thought for a moment. Consider that the seventh day is the climax of this story and put a pin in it for a moment while we look at the creation of humanity.
(Read Genesis 1:26 – 30) The word dominion is one that get’s misunderstood quite often. A better word might be to rule, but not to rule over, rather to be the benevolent ruler, as God rules. You see, God creates humanity and gives us a job. No other creature gets a job, just us. We are made in God’s image, in God’s likeness and we are to be fruitful and multiply, and we are to rule the creatures of the earth as God rules, not becoming God ourselves, but learning from God’s ways. God goes on to explain that there is food enough for all creatures on earth. There is an abundance of food for all to be filled and satisfied. Notice God does not say there is an unlimited supply. We have to share. And as we share the food regenerates. And we have the job of ruling, being sure that everyone has what he or she needs to thrive.
Now here is where the break in the pattern happens. On the seventh day, God is finished, and God rests from all the work she had done. And God blessed the seventh day and made it Holy because she rested. The amazing blessing of the Sabbath is not simply that we take time to worship God for an hour, hour and a half. But God intended for us to understand the generosity of God’s creation by understanding that in six days of work, there is enough for seven days of life. Let me say that again, because it bears repeating. In six days of work, there is enough for seven days of living. So on the seventh day, God rested, and we should rest too.
Let me go back to the question I asked at the beginning of our sermon, I wonder what would happen if we started to practice Sabbath? I wonder what would happen if we began to live as though we believed that in six days of work, God will sustain us for a seventh day? I wonder how our productivity might change, how our relationships might change, how our faith might change if we would actually take a day off? And maybe that day isn’t Sunday. Maybe Sunday is time for worship and church work, maybe it is another day that we honor as Sabbath. Or if it is Sunday, then maybe we need to think about covenanting to do church work on another day, but how might our lives improve if we understood God’s holy day of rest to be one that we practiced because God has given us enough? There is enough in abundance if we will be good stewards, good rulers, good caretakers. If we will practice good stewardship of our time, we will see that there is enough.
As we continue in this journey in Lent, moving through the wilderness of stewardship I would invite you to consider one way you can practice Sabbath, by giving yourself rest and claiming it as holy, claiming it as a holy practice of your faith. Let us be good stewards of God’s generosity, rather than trying to fit eight days of work into seven days of living, let us rely on God that all of our work, job, family, church, all of our work can fit into six days, and we can rest for the seventh knowing that God will provide enough.