Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Sabbath Tuesday...

According to the Jewish Virtual Library:
The Sabbath (or Shabbat, as it is called in Hebrew) is one of the best known and least understood of all Jewish observances. People who do not observe Shabbat think of it as a day filled with stifling restrictions, or as a day of prayer like the Christian Sabbath. But to those who observe Shabbat, it is a precious gift from God, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits.

In Jewish literature, poetry and music, Shabbat is described as a bride or queen, as in the popular Shabbat hymn Lecha Dodi Likrat Kallah (come, my beloved, to meet the [Sabbath] bride). It is said "more than Israel has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept Israel."
Shabbat is the most important ritual observance in Judaism. It is the only ritual observance instituted in the Ten Commandments. It is also the most important special day, even more important than Yom Kippur. This is clear from the fact that more aliyahs (opportunities for congregants to be called up to the Torah) are given on Shabbat than on any other day.

Shabbat is primarily a day of rest and spiritual enrichment. The word "Shabbat" comes from the root Shin-Bet-Tav, meaning to cease, to end, or to rest.

Why, for the love of Gentiles everywhere, am I posting this?

Because yesterday, Tuesday, was my Shabbat, or Sabbath. I drove a mere 22 miles from my house, and spent the day here. And because it is February... I had the place to myself.

I packed my backpack with a few books, a lunch, my trusty iPOD, and left home early in the morning (but late enough to miss the commuter traffic). I threw some fishing gear and bottled water into the truck and took off for some much needed rest after an exciting and exhausting DNOW weekend. I spent some time reading Romans and 1 John. I read my latest issue of Guitar ONE. Listened to some Ravi Zacharias and EJ's Bloom. Then went back to the scripture.

It was HARD. Hard not to think about everything on my desktop that needed my attention. Hard not to think about the students who made decisions this weekend. They needed follow-up. And what about the preparation for FUEL Wednesday night? The band practice? The message? The slides for MediaShout? What about all the religious-political discussions (read: battles) online I was missing out on?

Then my mind went back to a conversation at Chuy's (praise be to God for Chuy's) last week with my buddy, Pat Cammarata. While talking over green chile enchiladas and shrimp tacos, Pat said, "If you study the Bible, and it doesn't leave you in wonder and awe, then you haven't studied the Bible."

So, sitting next to the waterfall, listening to EJ, and sipping my snooty Pellegrino, the Spirit spoke to me. He seemed to say 'Being a Christian is more than conquering, it's about celebrating mystery.' THERE is my sabbath rest.

I neither have now, nor will *ever* have, the answers. But my faith is not bound up in knowing the answers--that's not faith, but science. The very nature of Orthodox Christianity is that we never come to the end. Our faith begs for more. More discussion. More inquiry. More debate. Question after question. More experience.

People say that the Christian faith has a lot of paradoxes. Not true. The Christian faith is a lot of paradoxes. It can't be resolved. We must let it be what it is. Grace and judgement. Election and free will. Yin and yang. It is systematically unsystematic. And it drives me bonkers.

On Tuesday, I celebrated the mystery in the Scripture. In creation. In EJ's interpretation of phyrgian minor as it plays against the pentatonic major of the bass line.

I encourage you to take your Sabbath. Soon. Today if possible. Unplug and log off. Listen to the Spirit-Wind of God. Let Him still your soul. Be still and know the mystery. Know that the God whom you'll never wrap your head around is madly and deeply in love with you. Why?

I guess that's part of the Mystery.


At 4:05 PM, Blogger Jimmie W. Kersh said...

a Sabbath rest. Now God said something about that I think. I think He said something like on every seven days. I know that is too ofetn for today's culture, but could you imagine celebrating the Mystery of Scripture every time we WORSHIPPED? I forgot, worship is about music style.

Peace, Love and Open 7th Chords

At 8:07 PM, Blogger scott m said...

Shabbat. A wonderful gift from God indeed! And yet, as I come to understand this Christian thing better, it seems we are called to an ongoing, continual experience of Shabbat. We are to live and rest in God with full awareness of his presence at all times through every day. In no way does that make special times of retreat and solitary reflection/recharge less important. But I sense in the full revelation of Christ a call to a continual Shabbat in Jesus.

Of course, you're right about a God of paradox. If our minds could fully encompass God, he wouldn't be God. I'm not sure I can put it any other way. But then, contradiction and paradox doesn't really create tension for me. It doesn't bother me or drive me bonkers that God refuses to conform to human systematic thinking. I'm just overjoyed at the things I do manage to understand.

Wish I could spend a day at McKinney Falls, or Barton Springs, or Mt. Bonnell, or any of a number of places .... Guess I'll make do until I can. New Year's Retreat, especially some of the off-trail "hiking" I did, was my last opportunity for anything like that.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger melody said...

I constantly have to remind myself to "Be Still...and know He is God!" It is hard, especially as Christians to get caught up in so many good activities to miss out on our purpose. I try to start every morning in a still and quiet time with my Rock and my Redeemer--to set my purpose for that one day. I also try to end every day meditating on the greatness of OUR GOD! My music of choice is a little bit more mainstream--Chris Tomlin--but to each his own. The more I learn about God the more I realize how little I know--my name is about the only musical info that I know. So I didn't even follow what you were saying in your post--but that does not stop me from enjoying the music. I dare say that my simple mind can't even fathom our Lord and all of his splendor--but I rest in the assurance that He has called me by name, and He loves ME!


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