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  • David Popham

Conference Minister Reflects on Sacred Time

The calendar of Christianity is set up to mark the rhythm of life interspersed with sacred moments. From a biblical perspective the essence of these moments is the sabbath. In the biblical narrative the sabbath is the seventh day of creation on which God rests following the initial creative acts which produced a "very good" world (Genesis 2:4). Jewish rabbis indicate that the rest of God is not from tiredness but is a gracious pause of divine work inviting humanity into these dynamics as co-creators of the world in order to continue the "very good" work of God.

Later, the Holiness Code of Leviticus culminates with God's instructions to observe the year of Jubilee. Jubilee is the capstone of seven cycles of sabbatical years culminating in rest from debt and from wealth accumulated over the previous forty-nine years (Leviticus 25:1-13). It was designed as a "reboot" year for Israelite society and as a reminder that the goal of the life is not to amass wealth, but to face sacred moments.

As we begin to exit the COVID pandemic we will want to heed the biblical theme of sabbath renewal and remember that our call from God is to cease our allegiance to busyness and the lie that a full calendar equals a full life. God calls us to face sacred moments unfrenzied and unhurried, so our daily moments are in service to the "very good" God intends for all creation.

Emerging from what feels like a yearlong pause, our temptation is to dust off our desk calendars and launch into days filled with things to do, visions to accomplish, and missions to fulfill.

I advise church leaders and members to allow your ministers to "not be busy" so that they may participate in God's good Sabbath rhythm as we exit the pandemic. And I advise clergy not to drive your congregation to make up for "lost time," but to guide your flock into the green pastures of sabbath rhythms. By doing so we might enter into what the Jewish scholar Abraham Heschel describes as "a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord."*

*Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath, introduction

David K. Popham Conference Minister


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