A Study of the Church: The People of God in Context – Day 35

Sabbath rest – the church (the people) – day 35

This is the day the Lord has made,
let us rejoice and be glad in it!
(Psalm 118:24)

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
(Anne Lamott, “Almost Everything: Notes on Hope,” [New York, NY: Riverhead Books, 2018], 67).

Time is pure gift to us humankind – us human kin – from God.
Each morning sunrise,
each setting sun,
each moonrise,
each day and each night,
pure gift to us human kin from God.

“The way we live in time shapes our relationships with
our innermost selves, with one another,
with God’s natural world,
and with God.”
(Dorothy C. Bass, “Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time,” [San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2000], xii).


Sabbath – a day of rest;
a day of rest and devotion to God;
a day of rest and unplugging;
a day of rest.

When I served as Solo Pastor and Head of Staff of a Presbyterian (U.S.A.) church in South Arkansas, I came to a place in my life where I needed to redefine sabbath apart from a whole day of rest and unplugging, because of the scarcity of those days. I begin to call snippets of times of rest and play as “sabbath moment,” and I reported these along with all the ministry tasks to my session each month. One month in 2016, my sabbath moments were these:

Sabbath Moments – 4/20 – Dental check-up and cleaning; 4/21 – attended the Arkansas Diamond Chef competition at Pulaski Tech Culinary Institute – my talented daughter-in-law, Angela (the lone woman competitor) came in third!  4/22 – attended Seder worship with Temple Anshe; 4/23 – attended wedding shower for a dear friend; 4/30 – attended the Paul McCartney concert with my brother & sister-in-law!! 5/11 – annual physical exam (I passed!); 5/13 – worshipped with Temple Anshe; 5/14 – lunch with Conway women friends.

Sabbath moments became an element of self-care.

Now in my present ministerial call, I’ve lost sabbath – and even sabbath moments yet again. During the 2020 global pandemic, however, as I’ve spent more time reading and writing, and having re-discovered Dorothy C. Bass’ book “Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time” – a book I’ve had for the entire twenty years of its publication – I’ve be able to refine “play” for myself as “anything that does not involve being seated at my kitchen table (make-shift pastor’s study) and doing ministry. Play then goes hand-in-hand with sabbath moments, and in this moment, I’m vowing to myself to rediscover sabbath moments and to expand them into a real sabbath day – at least one – and maybe several strung together.

“As you find yourself in the rush and noise of life,
may you have intervals
where you may step within yourself and be still.
May you wait upon God and feel God’s good presence
as you carry through with your day.”
(William Penn [1644-1718], in Isabel Anders, “Simple Blessings for Sacred Moments,” [Liguori, MO: Liguori/Triumph, 1998], 113).

Let us pray,

May each one of us have intervals – sabbath moments  – where we step within ourselves and be still today; may we hear your voice whispering to us to be still and listen; may we hear your calling on our lives and respond, “Here I am, Lord, send me.” For we know that we cannot hear you until we are quiet and still. May we have sabbath moments today when we listen and hear, and in our hearing, may we be blessed with your courage to respond with faith, trust, obedience, energy, intelligence, imagination, and love when tomorrow’s sun rises. In Christ’s name we pray, and together we say, Amen.


Rev. Susan Carter Wiggins