Life Together 1 – Remember the Sabbath . . .

Recently as my health has forced me to rest I have, perhaps unsurprisingly been considering The Sabbath. The Command to rest from our labours one day in seven.
Then as I was reading and studying, out of the blue someone sent me a book about the Sabbath, and then I was listening to a lecture which without my realising focussed on the significance of the Sabbath – so I thought I’d better write a few words about it!! 🙂

One of the odd things I’ve noticed as I’ve been reading is how most if not all contemporary books on the Sabbath take it as read that ‘this is not something which it is possible to do together in the modern world, but we can still find ways to observe some form of Sabbath on our own’. And the more I have thought and pondered and prayed, the more this has disturbed me, for many reasons, but two of particular importance to us as the people of God.

Firstly, the command is put in such a way that ‘doing it together’ is a requirement, and as we read it we see why. ‘You shall not do any work, you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or strangers resident in your town.’  The command is given to those at the top of the pile, those who have power over the lives of others [as indeed the books are 🙂 those who have the money and the leisure for reading . . .]. ‘you are responsible for the rest of others’
The idea that we can do our own private Sabbath as is convenient to us makes the demonic assumption that we are all individuals. Perhaps we wish to shop on our rest day? Someone else has to work so that we can do that. Or drive? Who will be at the fuel stations? All too often our restless rest requires others to be working. It assumes that we are not our brothers keeper – that we have a life of our own . . .
Indeed now as a society we have become ‘secularised’, we have adapted to an economic model which doesn’t allow rest – most especially for those at the bottom of the pile. Recently the Diocese has backed the ‘Living Wage’ Campaign. Well that is a good thing, but a Life without Rest is no life at all. If a person cannot earn a living wage in six days, it is not a living wage. We Sabbath together for the sake of the weak.

Secondly, this command is woven into the very nature of Creation – ‘For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day’. Did you notice that the non human creation is also involved in Sabbath?? ‘your livestock’ In my parish back in England, one local farmer was a Quaker. He never milked his cows on the Sabbath – and they did not suffer for it, indeed one might guess they thrived. They too rested from their labours.
Failure to observe a Sabbath for the Land and the Livestock now faces us with what look like catastrophic consequences as industrialised 7 day a week farming and Climate change look set to rebuke our restlessness. [You can read of such things in the Scripture – of how in sobering terms, the Creation is given its Sabbath. See 2 Chronicles 36 vs 17-21]

Sabbath keeping is not so much dry legalism as a matter of economic and ecological justice – a recognition that our lives are with each other and the Good Earth. This command is given to the people of God, that they might be a Light to the Nations, revealing the One in whom all things hold together, who rested from his labours. Perhaps we would do well to think, talk and pray together about how we might shape our Life Together in this regard?

Through the Bible in a Year – Scheme for November and December

‘Read, Mark, Learn and Inwardly digest’
And so to the final lap! Here are the readings which complete our journey through the Bible in a Year

Of course if you have not yet made a start, there no reason why you can’t join in at any point. Please contact church if you would like copies of the earlier schedule of readings. The full scheme will be available at the end of the year in a simplified form

Just a couple of tips – if you miss a day, do not worry, or try to catch up, this will just turn it into a chore! Start again with the reading set for the day. And if something grabs your attention, then stop, turn to God in prayer or praise or lament or in whatever way seems appropriate.

This scheme has taken us through the whole Bible in a year and twice through some parts. It is adapted from a scheme supplied by the Christian Medical Fellowship, the one change being that the Psalms are not read as part of the stream for the Old Testament, but as is the practise of the church, read in a continuous cycle. At then end of the year, you will have read not only through the whole Old Testament, but also twice through much of the New and accompanied your readings with three opportunities ot pray through the Psalms

Of course you do not have to read All of the readings, you could perhaps just follow the Old Testament track, or the new – or just read a Psalm a day as set – all of it is a profitable discipline
My attempts to provide a reflection each day have I regret foundered – but I do hope to make up the full set before too long.
Checkback at theelvesareheadingwest.com.

May God bless us all in our studies

Eric

November 1 Eze 11-12; John 16; Psalm 81-82
November 2 Eze 13-14; John 17; Psalm 83
November 3    Eze 15; John 18; Psalm 84
November 4 Eze 16; John 19; Psalm 85
November 5    Eze 17; John 20; Psalm 86
November 6 Eze 18; John 21; Psalm 87-88
November 7 Eze 19; Heb 1-2; Psalm 89:1-18
November 8 Eze 20; Heb 3-4; Psalm 89:19-end
November 9    Eze 21; Heb 5-6; Psalm 90
November 10 Eze 22; Heb 7-8; Psalm 91
November 11 Eze 23; Heb 9; Psalm 92-93
November 12 Eze 24; Heb 10; Psalm 94
November 13 Eze 25; Heb 11; Psalm 95-96
November 14 Eze 26; Heb 12-13; Psalm 97-98
November 15 Eze 27; Jas 1 ; Psalm 99-100
November 16 Eze 28; Jas 2-3: Psalm 101
November 17 Eze 29; Jas 4-5; Psalm 102
November 18 Eze 30; 1 Pet 1 Psalm 103
November 19  Eze 31; 1 Pet 2-3; Psalm 104
November 20  Eze 32; 1 Pet 4-5; Psalm 105:1-25
November 21 Eze 33; 2 Pet 1; Psalm 105:26-end
November 22 Eze 34; 2 Pet 2-3; Psalm 106:1-23
November 23 Eze 35; 1 Jn 1; Psalm 106:24-end
November 24 Eze 36; 1 Jn 2; Psalm 107:1-22
November 25 Eze 37; 1 Jn 3; Psalm 107:23-end
November 26 Eze 38; 1 Jn 4-5; Psalm 108
November 27 Eze 39; 2&3 Jn; Psalm 109
November 28 Eze 40; Jude ; Psalm 110
November 29 Eze 41; Luke 1:1-38; Psalm 111
November 30 Eze 42-43 Luke 1:39-end ; Psalm 112

December 1 Eze 44; Luk 2:1-21; Psalm 113-114
December 2 Eze 45-46; Luk 2:22-end; Psalm 115
December 3 Eze 47; Luk 3; Psalm 116
December 4 Eze 48; Luk 4; Psalm 117-118
December 5 Dan 1-2; Luk 5; Psalm 119:1-16
December 6 Dan 3; Luk 6; Psalm 119:17-32
December 7 Dan 4; Luk 7; Psalm 119: 33-48
December 8 Dan 5-6; Luk 8:1-25; Psalm 119 : 49-64
December 9 Dan 7 ; Luk 8:26-end; Psalm 119:65-80
December 10 Dan 8; Luk 9:1-36; Psalm 119:81-96
December 11 Dan 9-10; Luk:9:37-end; Psalm 119:97-112
December 12 Dan 11-12; Luk 10; Psalm 119:113-128
December 13 Ezr 1; Luk 11:1-32; Psalm 119:129-144
December 14 Ezr 2; Luk 11:33-53; Psalm 119:145-160
December 15 Ezr 3-4; Luk 12:1-34; Psalm 119:161-176
December 16 Ezr 5-6; Luke 12: 35-end; Psalm 120-121
December 17 Ezr 7-8; Luke 13; Psalm 122-123
December 18 Ezr 9-10; Luk 14; Psalm 124-126
December 19 Hag 1-2; Luke 15; Psalm 127-128
December 20 Zec 1-5; Luke 16; Psalm 129-130
December 21 Zec 6-9; Luke 17; Psalm 131-132
December 22 Zec 10-14; Luke 18; Psalm 133-134
December 23 Est 1-5; Luke 19; Psalm 135-136
December 24 Est 6-10; Luke 20; Psalm 137-138
December 25 Neh 1-3; Luke 21; Psalm 139
December 26 Neh 4-6; Luke 22:1-38; Psalm 140
December 27 Neh 7; Luke 22:39-end ; Psalm 141-142
December 28 Neh 8-9; Luke 23-1-25; Psalm 143-144
December 29 Neh 10-11; Luke 23:26-end; Psalm 145
December 30 Neh 12-13; Luke 24:1-35; Psalm 146-147
December 31 Mal 1-4; Luke 24:36-end; Psalm 148-150