Jesus died on a Friday, just before their Jewish Sabbath day started at sunset. His body laid in the grave until the Sabbath had ended. The resurrection took place early on the Sunday morning of the third day. Sabbath is a day of rest, and whatever God had planned for Jesus, it included respect for Sabbath rest.
As we experience our coronavirus lockdown we are encouraged to discover how it might be like a Sabbath rest for us. For some of us that won’t be true. Key workers need to go out to work, and are all working hard. Those who are able to work from home are probably struggling hard to work out how to do that well. Foodbank volunteers and other voluntary providers of deliveries and essential services are also working hard. Those who are closing down small businesses and mothballing their self employed status are also struggling to work out how to do those things with minimum loss. We remember all those who are working hard and serving the community and the economy through their work. But even for those among us for whom this is true, the concept of Sabbath rest, and a pattern of rest in the routines of work, is still important and healthy for us. Find your Sabbath rest.
But for some of us that doesn’t apply. We are stood down from our work, we are isolated from our normal activities. Rather than stress over the loss, we need to learn to enter our long Sabbath rest. To treat the moments of time given to us as an opportunity to relax, reflect, renew, rejoice and refresh. It will end. Will we emerge as people who are better because of our Sabbath experience?
I end with a poem for separated people:
I cannot hold you close today.
I cannot take your hand;
I cannot wipe your tears away
Or brace you as you stand.
I cannot whisper in your ear
Or pass a gift to you –
A sweet or silly something dear –
To cheer a world turned blue.
I cannot sit at home with you,
Make tea or share the moans;
Can’t spread a blanket over you
When sorrow chills your bones.
Only these words can reach across
The distance we must keep
Reminding you we’re still an us
And, waking or asleep,
The bond that ties us close endures
And love can stretch so far –
Can wind its way through walls and doors
To wherever you are.
So I will pray and you will pray
And we will pray together.
The tie that binds us cannot fray:
Love. Always and forever.
A day will come, and end to pain,
And when that day begins
We’ll hold each other close again
Because love always wins.
Words: Caroline Beckett (who writes at the end… no copyright and free to share.)
Yours in Christ. May God bless you and keep you safe.