2900 County Barn Rd. Naples, Fl. 34112

Blog

The idea of Sabbath has its roots in the Book of Exodus.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)

 

Sabbath rest was observed more regularly on Sundays in the past. The day was set aside for church, family and no work. I had the opportunity to travel to American Samoa in 2010 and the practice is still in effect. Stores were closed and people focused on church, family and rest. As a child our Sundays were spent in church in the morning, and family time the rest of the day.

 

Sabbatical time is an extension of the day of rest. It is a time of rest from work. It is still prevalent in educational settings and church settings. Sabbatical time or Sabbath time take a variety of forms but even in an informal way humans need to rest whether it is one day or an extended time away from work. It is part of healthy living.

 

I begin a sabbatical on June 1 for two and half months. It is time away from work, a time to refocus rest and enjoy life. There are a number of things I have on my ‘to do’ list during the time but I have been warned not to overdo it and live at a slower more relaxed pace.

 

This is the first time I have had the opportunity to have an extended time away from work so I look forward to it but also wonder how will it be for me? I enjoy being busy and at times find the relaxing part of life hard as well as not having to go to work on a daily basis. Many of those around me know what this is like in retirement, but this is a short time of rest and refreshment. What will happen on my return? Stay tuned.

We have been able to visit national parks the last two years. Besides being magnificent places to visit we noticed how many people were taking selfies, with the beauty of the park behind the person. Here in Naples during one of the winter break school weeks we were walking along the beach towards sunset time and again so many people were taking selfies with the gulf and sun as the backdrop. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself but it is also an indicator of where our society is focused. We worry and think more about ourselves than anything else. It is not a new phenomenon but it has been becoming more and more prevalent in our society.

The problem is that a self-oriented person is the exact opposite of what a Christian person strives to be. Years ago I was watching Danny Ainge doing an interview on ESPN. At the time he was in the championship playoffs and the reporter asked him what was foremost on his mind. He responded, God, my family and basketball is somewhere down the list. A Christian should always strive to put God first in their life and then other people and finally the self somewhere down the line. That is the simple command by Jesus for all to follow, love God and one another. It really couldn’t get any simpler than that.

The struggle is within each of us and the perceived need to take care of ourselves before we reach out to others if we do at all. Of course we need to care for ourselves so we are able to do the work of Christ in the world but if care of the self leads to a disregard for others we are not fulfilling the command of Jesus. It goes beyond a personal approach as well. In the U.S. we are losing the aspect of the “Common Good.” There are a number of people who do not give to charities in our country, who amass wealth and property only for the self. The self also shows up in churches throughout the country. The majority of churches struggle to meet budgets each year even though the members of the church have enough funds to fully fund a budget. They are worried about the self and not trusting enough in God.

It is a faith issue. We put our faith in ourselves rather than God. We have been taught to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and be strong. We don’t need anyone’s help, we can do it all by ourselves. This is the struggle of humanity, self or other. Our lives should be a combination of self and other. All people should work for the common good of society and for people of faith the order or importance is God, other and self.

Those two words are important to our health and well-being.  Yet a lot of times we neglect them.  In our fast paced society we don’t take time to rest.  The desire to do more, be active is a symbol and symptom of our society.  We do not take enough time to rest even though Jesus tells us to.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  If you notice he is actually not saying rest but where to find rest.  We find our rest in him.  Which leads us to, how do we find rest in Jesus?  The best way is to set aside some time in the day to sit in prayer and meditate on God.  The first thought to this idea may be, “I don’t have the time!”  That, my friend, is the very problem.  We think we have to always be doing something.  We are not called human doings, we are called human beings.  To be with Christ is to find rest in his presence.  Rest and pray.  Three simple words that we can incorporate into our lives on a daily basis to become more healthy, more compassionate, more loving and more like Christ.

All we have is today.  Let’s make the best of it.  One scripture verse that has this theme is, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Most of the time we think all is well.  Depending on the day we seem to either worry or look forward to the tomorrows we take for granted.

We got word over the weekend of a colleague who was in an automobile accident.  Her husband died as a result of that accident the following day.  For those of us in this denomination in Florida, it has shocked us.  It is one of those events that cause us to think that we may not have tomorrow.  By the grace of God we are given one day and it is today.  AA and other twelve step programs use the slogan, ‘one day at a time.’  If that person makes it through the day without picking up a drink or drug, it is a great day. 

Let us live for today, yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come.  Today is a great day!

Much has been said recently about privilege, especially white privilege.  As a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant heterosexual male I fit the stereotype of one who has the opportunity to experience that privilege.  I don’t get the looks in stores or other places I go that some people of color have experienced in their lives.  People like me can go blindly through life not realizing how privileged we are or we can be aware of it and act accordingly.  I have also been in a country where I experienced for a brief time what it is like to not speak the language and look different than everyone else.  It helped me to understand what any immigrant group or group that is not Anglo face as they try to live in these United States.

People that look different are often singled out as a threat of one form or another.  It is not only a problem in this country today but is a problem of humanity.  It seems that someone always has to be on top of the hill.  That means that another group is below them.

Jesus however teaches us differently.  As the Gospel stories tell us he often sought out the marginalized of his society, much to the anger of those in power.  If we call ourselves Christians, then we should look on anyone as a treasured child of God, no different than ourselves.  It is that simple.

Search Website

FIND US ON FACEBOOK

CHOIR ON FACEBOOK

MAYFLOWER CONGREGATIONAL UCC

2900 County Barn Rd 
Naples, Florida 34112

Office Hours: 
8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mon - Fri.

Sunday Worship 9:30
            Refreshments 10:30

Church Phone: 239-775-0055
Fax Number: 239-775-3253

Pastor Alan's Cell: 239-227-8500

office@mayflowernaples.com
pastor@mayflowernaples.com

NEWSLETTER

The monthly newsletter is available online.

Download PDF

OUR LOCATION

Mayflower is closer than you think!

IMAGES GALLERY

FIND US ON FACEBOOK