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The Gift of Sabbath: Week Three - Receptivity

Sermon  Sermon

"All who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant -- these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer." - Isaiah 56:6-7

For six days a week we are busy toiling, shaping and changing the world. On the seventh day, we are called to refrain and to give ourselves over to be renewed, refreshed, even transformed.

Week Three: Given for Receptivity
Cheryl Mathinson
Rest, Re-Creation, Receptivity for graphics that can be used for this series.

"But as for me, it is good to be near God." - Psalm 73:28

"Sabbath is a time for being in the presence of the Holy and letting the Holy shape our lives. Reformed theologians call this sanctification. An awesome -  sanctifying possibility." - D. Postema

Today we conclude our sermon series on the Sabbath

So far we have looked at:
How long before the Sabbath was given as a command, it was given as a gift at creation

  • Rest is one of the purposes given in this gift
  • Physical refreshment and spiritual clarity: reawaken to reality that God is in control

Last week  Re-creation as another purpose

  • Talked about the placement of the Sabbath as the first day of week/not the last
  • And what a difference it makes in how you experience the Sabbath
  • Talked about how though God rested on the 7th day; it is clear he wasn't finished
  • And how God remains active shaping and forming all he made:  including US

Today:  third purpose given in this gift: Receptivity

The other day I said to my son:  
Go get dressed, brush your teeth, make your bed and feed the dog.
And he said:  Mom, you are multi-tasking me!  Stop multi-tasking me!  You know I hate to be multi-tasked!
I couldn't help but think to myself:  Sure he says that now, but give him a couple of years and pretty soon he will multi-tasking himself. And I will be one yelling:  Stop multi-tasking!

In January, I went back to the classroom for a two week seminary course...things have changed a bit.

  • Met in media room/not classroom
  • Everyone had a laptop
  • Lecture included visuals/sound and was being recorded

Pretty impressive till I noticed students were dividing time/not equally/between listening/watching lecture AND

  • Checking email
  • Surfing the internet
  • Organizing their photos
  • Shopping
  • And not occasionally sending and replying to text messages on their cell phones!

It all seemed like overload to me; but then I am of another generation!

Multitasking has been in the news these past couple of weeks:

  • First the law that went into effect August 1 making it illegal to drive and text
  • Even though I know lots who insist they can do both with attentiveness
  • Secondly, there was the warning issued by ER doctors about texting...READ

The word multitask is a fairly new word as far as words go; comes from the computer era;
BUT, experiments and studies on the effects of doing more than one thing at a time have been going on for years

  • Remember my junior high math teacher making a point about homework and background noise/impression
  • Heard of an even more impressive experiment;

Several years old but has referenced as folks are reacting against the texting/driving law

  • Study responsible for coining the word:  inattentional blindness
  • Participants watch a video of 6 people wearing t-shirts passing a basketball/asked to count pass
  • Some point a woman dressed as a gorilla passes through the scene
  • 50% participants Never Saw It/Didn't Notice!!!!!

  • IOW:   don't tell me you can text while you drive and still pay attention!
    IOW:  it seems that if we aren'tيټt looking for it; we very likely will miss it . . .

That brings us back to our conversation about the Sabbath and receptivity
Can't help but think of that fabulous Old Testament story of Elijah in the wilderness . . .

1 Kings 19.11: He said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.' Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.

Put yourself in this story right are standing and watching and waiting for the Lord
You are focused and alert and mindful...
Then a great and powerful wind tears the mountains apart and shatters the rocks before the LORD.
You are thinking:  Yeah!  There is God!!!
But the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake,
And again, you think, now, there is the Lord.
But the LORD was not in the earthquake.

1 Kings 19:12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

Surely, this is now the Lord . . .
but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Did you even hear it?
And after the fire came a gentle whisper
And you thought:  no, it can't be?
And after the fire came a gentle whisper
And there was the Lord.

The gift of the Sabbath has been given for Receptivity
So that we don't miss the Lord passing by

The other day I was on my way to work and I was remembering I was responsible for staff devotions.
So my mind was racing with ideas as I was trying to put something together
All of a sudden became aware
Blue sky
Incredibly blue: so deep, rich
Green of the trees
Sun at my back, so the color was especially vibrant; brilliant, lush.

At Parkers Lake; fisherman, standing and casting on the still waters
The thermometer in the car read: 75.
It was an absolutely perfectly beautiful day.

I couldn't help but call to mind:  Psalm 24 verse 1:  The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.

And it struck me:
That here I was surrounded by all these amazing gifts from God:
Just eye candy, really!
Given by God for my sheer enjoyment
And what did God get out of it?

God's good pleasure and delight not only to give it; but also to watch it being enjoyed.                                                                          
And to think I almost overlooked it!
I will remember it as the day when...
It was as if every breath I take was breathing in the goodness of God

That is what Sabbath receptivity is: breathing in the goodness of God
Being mindful of the presence of the Lord
And we can't do that while we are texting, driving, walking, shopping, emailing, golfing, fishing

Paul writes:
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things

Eugene Peterson in the Message puts it this way:
So.  if you are serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ - that is where the action is. See things from his perspective.  

See things for surely the Lord is in our midst.

Sabbath: Week One - Rest

Sabbath: Week Three - Re-creation

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Adam CopelandAdam Copeland serves as director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders.

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