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Sabbath: Being overwhelmed by the presence of God

March 2022 Ovingdean News

The cycle of years turns and we come again to Spring and of course Lent.

Plans to till and seed a part of the meadow area in Daphne’s field with chalkland wildflowers are continuing and we are also hoping to put in some compost bins for grass cuttings to help tidy Daphne’s field more generally. The options and costs for the new heating system and repair to the Kempe ceiling are being gathered and there will be more information on fundraising support once we are clearer on costs. A big thank you to everyone who is working so hard on maintaining and improving our historic church and its beautiful grounds.

I thought I would give some last thoughts on the Sabbath. It's been great getting feedback on this topic from all sorts of people. One thing I might say is that I’m not saying Sabbath has to be on Sunday….of course it would be great if we could all take the Sabbath on the same day but with the changes to modern life over the past 30 years this has become increasingly difficult. Many of us now have to work on a Sunday or perhaps if you are a carer, you work every day? The ask of God and the grace of His love is saying, we need to take the time to rest with him - when and how you do this is between you and the divine. What's important is that you take your weekly Sabbath in some way that works for you and is meaningful. If you can make Sunday your Sabbath that's the ideal but it's much more important that you take it at some point during the week rather than not at all because you have to work on a Sunday.

Eugene Peterson suggests Sabbath is that uncluttered time and space in which we can distance ourselves from our own activities enough to see what God is doing. Dave Steell builds on this understanding and says Sabbath is allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by the presence of God. It's serious business and different from just taking time off. He asks: ‘When was the last time you did that, when you had a free afternoon and you thought I’m going to allow myself to be overwhelmed by God’….to go to the sea or walk through a wood and really reflect on the nature of God, the love of God, the grace of God. It is here where humility can make itself known and we can take a break from self absorption, self importance and self reliance. Dave says: ‘Sabbath is not time off, Sabbath is time with’. There is nothing wrong with rest but Sabbath is something more, it's about being with God. We need to ask ourselves, is Sabbath marked out in our diaries for this week…if not, how can we say Sabbath is important to us?

Easter is on the 17th of April this year and Lent starts with Ash Wednesday on the 2nd of March. There will be an evening service at St Wulfran's with the imposition of ashes and it would be great if you were able to join us. Lent is a time of preparation and purification and it often includes fasting or abstinence, the idea being that by taking away distractions we are able to step back and give time to God so that the divine may speak to us in the silence of our heart. Perhaps our acts of preparation and purification this Lent could be to purposefully take Sabbath each week for 5 weeks. Giving things up so that we can actually rest and take time with God?

Every blessing

Fr Richard

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