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Ash and Oil: February 25

So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God's rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

It's Wednesday. Which is not our Sabbath day. But I find myself thinking about Sabbath on this Wednesday anyway - which seems fitting. Sabbath isn't, after all, really about one of the seven days. It's not really about which day during the week we don't mow our lawn or avoid shopping malls. Sabbath isn't really about piety at all.

Sabbath is meant to be a gift. When we read of God creating the world, it's noteworthy that the creation of humans isn't the climax of the story - the climax comes on the seventh day: Sabbath. The story of creation isn't all about humans. It's all about God - a joyful, loving, capable, creative, and celebratory God. As Steven Bouma-Prediger writes in For the Beauty of the Earth, "The Sabbath reminds us, among other things, that the world is in God's loving hands and, therefore, will not fall to pieces if we cease from our work."

There's a lot of talk these days about things falling to pieces. It seems we're all Chicken Little, expecting chunks of sky to start their descent at any moment. And don't get me wrong - there's a lot in life to fear these days. So maybe it's good to insert a little Sabbath on a Wednesday afternoon - a little reminder that despite fragile 401ks and home values and consumer confidence, despite stubborn unemployment rates, fear of poverty, and general anxiety about what the future will hold...we are held. In strong hands.

Walter Brueggemann says this, "The celebration of a day of rest [is] an assertion that life does not depend on our feverish activity of self-securing, but that there can be a pause in which life is given to us simply as a gift.

Pray: Generous God, may we trust you today - despite the reasons we have to worry. May this Lenten season teach us the discipline of rest so that we may develop eyes to see the gifts of life.

Take the next step: The media is begging us to stimulate the economy by making a purchase today. Maybe that purchase can wait until tomorrow. Today, consider taking a day off from consumption. Retire that debit card as a statement of trust, an "assertion that life does not depend on our feverish activity of self-securing."

[Image: Flickr user Soraya Nullah]

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