O Sabbath Rest

The Revd Dr William Lamb

With the end of school term and plans for the vacation, we can begin to think about taking some rest over the summer months. It is important for us to do this. The lockdown and the complex arrangements for reopening schools, places of work, and churches, as well as the fears and anxieties about health and wellbeing in recent months have taken their toll. Many people are tired and it will be important to take some time to recharge the batteries over the coming weeks.

When we think of a ’sabbath’, we sometimes get caught up in imagining that it has to mean some kind of rigid sabbatarian regime - the sort of enforced rest that instils a sense of frustrated boredom. And yet, in Genesis 2, we read that on the seventh day God completed his work of creation by ‘resting’. The Hebrew word for ‘rest’ used in Genesis is more suggestive - it means a kind of ‘joyful rest’, tranquillity, wonder and delight. The sabbath is a day of renewal and recreation. It is, in the words of an ancient Jewish mystical text, ‘a mirror of the world to come’. In the words of the Roman Catholic Church’s catechism, the sabbath is ‘a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money’. The sabbath helps us to recover our sense of humanity. We learn simply to be.

So take time to get some rest in the weeks ahead. Remember that you don’t need an excuse - even God rested. At the same time, We also thought that we would mark the vacation with a little festival of our own at St Mary’s in order to cultivate a little ‘joyful rest'. Next week, we will publish details about a series of events from Friday 31st July - Thursday 6th August. This weekend will also mark the point when the church will reopen for tourists and visitors. We look forward to welcoming you to St Mary’s again, and we hope that you will find within these hallowed walls not only a warm welcome but also the peace, the wonder and the silence of eternity:

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!