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Sunday, May 1, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | Exodus 16:23–36
He said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord; bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.’” So they put it aside until morning, as Moses commanded them; and it did not become foul, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is a sabbath, there will be none.”
On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. The Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and instructions? See! The Lord has given you the sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you food for two days; each of you stay where you are; do not leave your place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day.
The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, in order that they may see the food with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord, to be kept throughout your generations.” As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the covenant, for safekeeping. The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a habitable land; they ate manna, until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. An omer is a tenth of an ephah. (NRSV)
Soon after the Israelites were delivered from their bondage in Egypt, they received the Ten Commandments. These laws provided the framework for the nation of Israel as the chosen people of God. Exodus 16:23–26 is the passage that details specific instructions regarding the fourth commandment to “Remember the sabbath and keep it holy unto the Lord” (Exodus 20:8).
Today certain Jewish denominations continue to follow centuries-old traditions originating from these first instructions regarding sabbath observance.
Protestant congregations have adapted these practices in their weekly worship services to turn from the daily demands of life and labor. The focus to remember the sabbath renews the congregants’ efforts to turn their vision to the importance of the centrality of God in all human affairs.
As I reflected on sabbath spirituality I pondered how this practice may be appropriated for an interior, individual spiritual practice, increasing a consciousness of God.
It is an intention to return to God’s presence at any time, in any place, in whatever emotional state as the source of my existence.
So, for example, when sitting on my deck at the end of the day, surrounded by birdsong and light infused with the colors of sunset, with a gentle breeze quieting my heart, I feel drawn into sabbath spirituality. The simple joy and gratitude of these moments reflect my idea of sabbath rest. In these times something in me feels seen and heard by divine presence.
Likewise, when in turmoil, filled with fear or anger or doubts about my faith (as simply a house of cards), I wait to be met by the One who loves me unconditionally. Whether I feel God’s presence or not I trust that my desire for God’s guidance will be met.
How does sabbath spirituality empower and restore your intention to live a more conscious and loving life?
Dear God, grant us your grace to live in your presence as we walk through this challenging life. Amen.
Written by Susan Cornelius, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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