I'm grateful to be part of a rotation of faith leaders in my town who take turns writing a column titled "Voices of Faith" in the local weekly, The Concord Journal. Here's my column from the June 14 edition of the paper.
Five things to do this weekend
Occasionally, online community websites post, “Five Things to Do This Weekend” for the towns they serve. The suggestions are varied and interesting and offer a quick way to make plans without having to schedule too much travel time.
I’d love to have my parish Sunday service times listed as one of the “Five Things to Do” -- but I don’t see that happening any time soon. So I thought I’d take the opportunity of this column to suggest “Five Faithful Things to Do ANY Weekend in Concord.”
1) Observe your Sabbath. And if you don’t have one, invent one - everyone needs a day off for rest! Sabbath is a time to put aside the day-to-day, business as usual stuff that fills and clutters the other six days of the week. Unfortunately, the Sabbath has become for many a day to cram in all the work and responsibilities they didn’t have time to get to the rest of the week. (Is the thought of a Sabbath day too daunting? Consider a Sabbath morning, afternoon or evening. Perhaps all you can manage to start with is a Sabbath hour – that’s a beginning!)
2) If at all possible, share your Sabbath with others. Invite family members and friends to share your plans for rest and relaxation. If the word “Sabbath” will scare some away, just invite them over to take it easy for a while. Some folks (maybe you, too) need a nudge from others to get them to slow down, take it easy and put their feet up. And keep your plans simple: Sabbath rest shouldn’t make work for anyone involved. If it’s going to be a cookout together – keep it simple with everyone pitching in. Many helping hands make a simple Sabbath possible.
3) Perhaps for the whole day and at least for a while: turn OFF anything you can plug in or activate wirelessly. (And I don’t mean “put it on vibrate.” I mean shut it off!) Get off the grid and go screenless! Invite others to join you in disconnecting for an hour or two or three. (Many folks won’t be able to do this without serious mutual support!) Go for a wireless walk together, listening for only the natural tweets you hear from the birds. Free yourself from Face Book for a few hours. Remember and relish memories of your life before email. And if no one will share with you this respite from the cyber world, go for it yourself.
4) Worship! This should be the only work you do on your Sabbath – and yes, worship is work. Praise and thanksgiving don’t usually involve heavy lifting but offering glory and praise to the Creator is a job that belongs to all believers. Worship on the Sabbath, like the Sabbath itself, is best when shared with others. Walking around Walden Pond alone at sunrise might provide a wonderful venue for Sabbath prayer – no argument there. But later in the day, plan to spend some time with others gathered together for no reason other than the prayer your faith community offers on its weekly holy day. (Elsewhere in today’s Concord Journal you’ll find the Sabbath schedules of faith communities all around town. If you don’t belong to one, just show up – you’ll be warmly welcomed.)
5) At day’s end, take a Sabbath inventory. Was it difficult for you to “observe a day of rest?” How much of the work-a-day world were you able to let go of? What much did you cling to? Was worship part of your day? Did you pray with others? Did you pray for others? Were you able to disconnect from the grid? What did the Sabbath teach you about yourself and how you live the other days of your week? What did you learn about your relationship with God? How might you plan for next week’s Sabbath?
Well, that’s a starter for “Five Faith-filled Things to Do ANY Weekend in Concord.” I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like a little time off for R&R and some time for pondering what’s truly important in our lives. And that’s just what the Sabbath is for.
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