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March 5, 2023 – Sermon Transcript

Time: For Rest & Delight - March 5, 2023

Connor Dennis (00:00):

Sabbath is a gift for us. The Sabbath is an invitation to take time to dwell. And I want you to hear this. You are safe enough, you are worthy enough, you are lovable enough already to have Sabbath.

Hannah Hunter (00:16):

Hey, beautiful people. Welcome back to Finish With Gathering. I’m Hannah Hunter, the director of Reir at the Gathering Place in Palm Beach Gardens. This week our worship coordinator, Connor Dennis, brings us a message on Sabbath, the gift of rest, delight, and recovery set in place so that we can enjoy a fuller, healthier life.

Connor Dennis (00:34):

Good morning. My name’s Connor Dennis and I struggle to keep the Sabbath and I’m not one for making excuses, so I will just tell you I haven’t made time for it. I am a husband, I’m a parent of two children. Uh, I’m a homeowner, I’m an employee. There’s a lot of things that pull my attention away from Sabbath, away from prayer, away from scripture. And I told you I wasn’t gonna make excuses, but there are just so many things that gotta be done. And I imagine for most of you, this sounds familiar. Our culture thrives on busyness and productivity. If you aren’t contributing, you’re just wasting time. I wanna invite you this morning to pause and consider something. Who cares?


If you don’t mind, I’d love to pray one more time before we jump in. Father God, you have blessed us with this Sabbath. You’ve blessed us with this time to pause and reflect and you’ve blessed me with this opportunity to share your word with this congregation. God, pray that you would use my words this morning so that you may be glorified so that we all may leave a little bit better in Jesus. Done we pray. Amen. So last week, pastor Mike began a discussion on Sabbath. Um, and now maybe silly, but I’m willing to bet that most of us, me included, don’t know how to do something like Sabbath. How do you stop and rest? I bet too that most of us have an idea of what rest looks like. If this image of sitting on a beach with a drink in our hand or uh, in a hammock up in the mountains just resting, whatever your rest spot may be, you can picture it.


Now listening to the world around us, it sounds like heaven, but how do we get there? The book of Deuteronomy is the second telling of the law for the people of God before they enter the promised land. It’s the last book of the tour before the Bible turns to the story of God’s people living in that promised land. And in chapter five, we get a retelling of the 10 Commandments. So we’re focusing on the fourth, the fourth and longest commandment. So you can read along, uh, on the screen or in your Bibles if you have ’em. We’re in Deuteronomy chapter five, starting in verse 12.


Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy as the Lord. Your God has commanded you. 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 ox, your donkey, or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns so that your male and female servants may rest as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore, the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. Now, the first telling of the 10 commandments we see in Exodus chapter 20 after Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt. The difference we see in this Deuteronomy telling, in this second telling is God, having Moses remind me, Israelites, where they’ve come from.


Hey, you remember that place where you were just slaves. Your ancestors worked and worked all day, every day to build monuments and buildings for that false God. Pharaoh, we don’t do that anymore. Your God commands you to rest and to do sabbath with your God. Deutero was full of laws and a lot of these laws were for our good, right? Don’t eat pork. Back then, pork wasn’t really a clean meat. It could make you sick. Now Christians eat bacon all the time cuz technology has advanced and it doesn’t make us sick. Now we can clean that uh, that meat. This law of Sabbath was also for our good, my uncles all of the time trying to find things that, that are good for us. Right now it’s about oils. You know, you can, you can only eat certain kinds of oils and so if you come to my house, we have olive oil and we have avocado, oil and butter.


That’s what you get to use no matter how convenient canola oil is. It’s just those three options. But he also has started this practice called regenerative farming. Have anybody into agriculture heard of regenerative farming before? I’ll give you a very over simplifi oversimplification of what uh, regenerative farming is. Essentially you have several different plots of land, right? And you move your, your cattle or your crop to those different areas, right? You, you rotate them around crop rotation. If you’re in middle school and you remember hearing about agriculture and growth, it’s um, that kind of to the next level. And you move your crop. You, you let your cows eat here, then you move over here, you let them eat over here because this land needs some time to grow. It can be expensive and it can be a little less efficient in our modern consumption of meat.


But the benefits I think outweigh the cost because the land has time to replenish. The benefits of this regenerative farming practice give the land time to heal, doesn’t produce as much methane gas from the cattle that are on it because they’re getting a chance to move around, uh, which is something really important to our environment. Leviticus in fact has uh, a few laws about farming as well. So really quick, uh, I’m gonna take a look at Leviticus. The Lord has said to Moses at Mount Sinai, speak to the Israelites and say to them, when you enter the land, I am going to give you the land itself must observe the Sabbath to the Lord for six years. So your fields and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year, the land is to have a year of Sabbath, rest a Sabbath to the Lord.


Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during that Sabbath year will be food for you, for yourself, for your male and female servants and the hired workers and temporary residents who live among you as well as for your livestock and your animals and your land. Whenever the land produces may be eaten. So you have to take time for your land, give it a year off. It’s gonna grow some stuff because you’ve been growing things there. But don’t prune it. Don’t put chemicals on it, don’t tend it. Just let it grow. The Lord will provide the Lord. Lord will give you enough for you and your household and even visitors cuz God always expects you to have guests.


But giving the land a chance to rest, to not be worked by human hands gives the land a chance to replenish. It’s like a pattern. It’s like an order to creation, work and rest. And sometimes we need to stop and rest so that God can prepare us for the thing that comes next. If we’re constantly on the move, if we’re constantly moving forward and accomplishing and doing and checking off the list, we may not be ready for the next thing that comes up. We need a chance to stop as well. The land is getting replenished for the next harvest, restoring its nutrients so that it can grow in bear fruit. Just like we need a chance to rest and replenish so that we can grow in bear fruit. Now when it comes to this law, there are two extremes that we often see. You have your legalistic view of the Sabbath that you’re going to do it because it’s the amount of time you set, 24 hours, no work. Jesus encountered this a lot with the Pharisees in his time. The other view of Sabbath is when we take more today, the other extreme view of Sabbath, it doesn’t matter, there’s always stuff to do, you’ll sleep when you’re dead.


So if this commandment is so important, why do we see Jesus working in healing on the Sabbath? I’m glad you asked. If you look at Mark, the book of Mark chapter two verses 23 through 28, when Sabbath, Jesus was going through the grain fields and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, look, why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath? He answered, have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need In the days of AAR the high priests, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for the priest to eat. And he also gave some to his companions. Then he said to them, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of man is Lord, even on the Sabbath, the Sabbath was made for man.


The Sabbath was made for us. Sabbath is a gift that we receive. We stop, we rest, we delight and we contemplate in this 24 hour period because Jesus knows we are not saved by the Sabbath. So let’s put it into context. What is Jesus saying? What is the Sabbath? We are not saved by the Sabbath. We are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. The grace of the Father and the connection to God through the Holy Spirit. Sabbath is a gift to the Pharisees. If you didn’t follow the law to a T, if you didn’t do everything every step of the way, then you were sinful. You were unclean. But Jesus knew that this wasn’t the purpose. It wasn’t keeping the law for law’s sake, it was for our benefits. The Sabbath was a gift. It was a law because Sabbath is a spiritual discipline like prayer, like reading scripture and going to church. Yes, you can be a Christian and not stop and rest or do any of those things, but if you aren’t, you’re missing out and you’re probably not growing. Busyness has become a feature of our culture.


A little bit of world news. If you haven’t heard, did you know that Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy has announced a plan this week to eliminate the traditional siesta tragedy? I know I can hear it. Eliminate the siesta. For those of you who don’t know, I know Albert’s like reeling from this. He loves his siesta <laugh>, the siesta of course being at practice of resting in the middle of the day in Spain. The workday traditionally goes 8:00 AM to 1:30 PM and then a pause, and then you continue to work from five to 8:00 PM. Now, I don’t know how any of you thought it worked in Spain. I know that I, I’d never been to Europe, so I just considered they would nap in the middle of the day, but they still stopped working at like five or six. Like that makes sense to me. But no, in order to keep up with the rest of the world, they have to get that eight hours in.


So the reason they’re considering this is so that they’re not working till 8:00 PM anymore. They can cut their workday by two hours if they can cut out siesta as a, as a mandate, as a tradition. Uh, that has been around for um, seven decades in Spain, probably longer than that. I think seven decades is what I read in the article. They would consider this because they can’t keep up. Productivity has become such a status symbol that there’s no patience to wait for someone to finish. You’ll just go and get what you want from someone who can give it to you when you need it. And Spanish businesses have suffered to keep up. If you order something from a company and they say, all right, I’ll get it to you after my nap, you’re probably gonna go find somebody else who can get it to you sooner.


Because in today’s economy there’s always somebody who’s gonna try and get it to you sooner. Busyness has become a way of life. See, our culture has taken the other extreme view on Sabbath that it’s not important at all. It’s not worth your time. It’s a waste. Sick days aren’t even the same anymore. Ever since Covid, yes we’re, we’ve acknowledged that when you’re sick you need to take space. Don’t come to work that day. But you know what? The internet is a thing. You can zoom. Here’s your link. We don’t have snow around here, but snow days aren’t the same for schools anymore. Everything’s on Google Classroom. Even when the teachers missed time and I would go in as a sub, it was always, Hey, your work’s on Google Classroom. This isn’t a free day. You’ve got your work to do.


Our culture is eliminated the sick day, I don’t know if you feel it, but I definitely do this drive to be productive from sun up to sundown. The only time that I will take time for myself is after my kids go to bed. And by then I’m just too tired to do anything else. I make big plans for 8:30 PM and I’m usually in bed by nine 30 <laugh>. And I’m sure any parent can relate and probably any working person really. I don’t remember the last time I was bored. There’s always something to do, something I should be doing. Teaching my kids, cleaning the house, practicing guitar, fixing something, learning a new skill for a job, reading my Bible, reading any book.


I’ve had times when somebody has asked me what my hobbies were and I had to remind myself what my hobbies were like, what do I do when I have free time? I don’t have free time anymore. I have a stack of books that I want to get to. I enjoy playing video games, games. I have a backlog of of video games that just sit there cause I don’t have time. What is it that drives us to keep going in Deuteronomy? God tells his people, remember that you were slaves in Egypt. Sabbath is counterculture when it seems that everyone around us is working nonstop. It’s hard to slow down. But we do see some examples of Sabbath working in the corporate world. Other world news going on in Europe, in the uk there’s been a trial of the four day work week in Britain. Now when I say 44 day work week, I’m not saying four tens, like they are just working four days and then Friday is a part of the weekend forever, three day weekend.


They’ve been doing this for six months. 61 companies participated in this study from June to December and a majority of them are gonna keep going because with the shorter hours they found that most employees were less stressed, had a better work life balance, were more productive. It’s kind of funny when you think about like, hey, okay, hey, our company’s gonna try this four day work week out thing, but you all have to agree you’re gonna get the same amount done. I think that was kind of a funny conversation. <laugh>, uh, you’re getting one last day but you still have to finish everything. And everybody was like, yeah, we can do that. I’ll be on board a four day work week. This is a, a couple clips from the article of four, a trial of a four day work week in Britain. Build as the world’s largest has found that an overwhelming majority of the 61 companies that participated from June to December will keep going with the shorter hours that most and that most employees were less stressed, had better work-life balance.


Not surprisingly, employees reported benefits with 71% less burned out, 39% less stressed, 48% more satisfied with their job than before the trial. Everyone is focused. Everyone knows what they’re doing. Everyone is refreshed. Said Christie, Wayne Wright, general manager of the restaurant about a three hour drive northeast of London. What it means is they’re coming into work with a better frame of mind and passing that on to obviously the clients and the public that are coming here for their meals. They’re getting a greater service because the team are more engaged. So not only is this working in in an office setting, this is a restaurant that is giving their their staff a four day work week. A restaurant typically, you know, open much earlier, much later to get the breakfast and dinner. Crowds gotta get the weekend crowds and they’re giving their employees a four day work week and they’re seeing benefits.


People are coming in more energized because they have that extra day, that extra break. They’re more energized, they’re more engaging, they’re less stressed, there’s less turnover, less people are quitting, more productivity. And isn’t that the bottom line anyway, another example of, um, a restaurant displaying Sabbath in a positive way. Chick-fil-A need, I say more, which of us hasn’t wondered how much more successful they would be if they only opened one more day a week? And I apologize for those of you, um, who are now going to watch Chick-fil-A on a Sunday <laugh>. So it’s easy to see the benefits of Sabbath, but what makes it so hard to keep in Deuteronomy? God reminds his people you were slaves and Egypt. Now I love, um, comic book movies. I love, uh, the Avengers. I dunno if you all have seen that movie. It’s it’s been out for a while now so I’m not gonna spoil anything. But in the first Avengers movie, lowkey is the villain, right? The lowkey, um, you may know him from Greek, not Greek Norse mythology. Took me a second, but I got there. Um, this lowkey in the comic book wants to come in Rule Earth and he gives the speech to the people. Why is he doing what he’s doing? He’s only trying to help, right?


Loki says you were made for subjugation. Is this not a better way? He’s not entirely wrong, right? When you can have somebody, sometimes it’s easier just to say like, Hey, this is what you’re gonna do today. Check off the list and then you’re good to go. Right? He’s not entirely wrong. So we have a tendency to wanna attach ourselves to things, attach ourselves to work because it’s who we are. And we think if we stop doing that work, then we’re gonna stop being who we are. We love attaching ourselves to things because it gives us identity. I am a Detroit Lions fan and is my identity during football season when it’s going well, <laugh>? Not very often, not very often. During the end of the season, I kind of tail off. It’s what I am. We attach ourselves to work because we think if we stop working, who are we? We are afraid that if we finally stop, we’ll be forced to look inside and face ourselves. This busyness is a defense. We have subjugation in our bones. The voice of the pharaoh inside of you saying, you better not stop or you’ll die.


You better not stop no matter what the Sabbath was made for man, not the man for Sabbath. So the son of man is Lord. Even on the Sabbath we see the benefits. The Sabbath is a gift for us. The Sabbath is an invitation to take time to dwell. The Sabbath is an invitation to be seen by God. The Sabbath is about freedom. No guilt. Do what brings you delight, freedom, a taste of heaven. The work may go unfinished, but Jesus already did the work that matters. God reached out to restore relationship with our relationship with God and with creation. And no matter how much money you made this year, how many books you read, how many things you’ve accomplished, Deuteronomy, it says that you shall not do any work neither you nor your son or your daughter, your male or female servants. Because we are all equal in this Sabbath in God’s eyes.


And I want you to hear this. You are safe enough, you are worthy enough, you are lovable enough already to have Sabbath. So how does this work? Let’s get practical. The 24 hour period of Sabbath. The Sabbath is not the same as a day off. Kinda like how a vacation with kids isn’t really a vacation, it’s more of a family trip. It takes some time to prep if you want to succeed. God said that the Sabbath was to be holy, to be set apart, to be different from other days. And last week when Pastor Mike said 24 hours, I think he meant 24 hours, which can be scary. It takes some prep time to make sure you can cut that time out. Pete Guero, a fellow we talk an awful lot about around here. Uh, and most of what I shared today comes from him, has set out four components to Sabbath.


So last week pastor might cover the first two steps. These four steps. Stop, rest, delight, and contemplation. It’s a quick recap. For those of you who weren’t here last week, stop means an ending of action toward obligation. Stopping all work paid or unpaid chores work is something that we’re gonna have to define because we’re gonna use it to help draw some distinctions later. So when we think of work, I think of it, it carries the sense of obligation to it. You aren’t necessarily doing it because you want to do it, you’re doing it because you need to do it. Maybe it’s to make money. Maybe it’s to keep the well-oiled machine of your home running smoothly. You’ve probably heard the phrase, uh, if you can get paid to do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well that’s not entirely true, is it? But it’s a good sentiment.


We think of work, we think of obligation. Rest is the second step. Replenish. Think of how professional athletes have entire regiments planned to rest and recovery. Sabbath is as much about physical recovery as it is about emotional recovery. What fills your cup? Stopping work and finding rests. This morning I wanna take a look at the third and fourth components of Sabbath and delight in contemplation. First being delight in the rhythm of the creation story. After each day God looked at what God had done and he said it was good. And at the end of it all, on the seventh day, God looked all God did and said it is very good. This Hebrew phrase communicates a sense of joy and completion of wonder and play Delight is a key component of Sabbath because if you don’t enjoy it, you’re kind of missing the point. Our culture has become delight deficient. We have a hard time slowing down and receiving joy or pleasure In a lot of ways we’ve convinced ourselves that joy or pleasure is sinful. If you’re stopping just to take time to do what you want to do, you should be productive as parents. How often have I said to my kids? Not right now. I’ve got things to do.


Kids know how to delight In about six minutes, you’re gonna see me get distracted when these kids run out because when you watch them kids know how to delight. It’s, it’s a pleasure to see them move and play. I show my kids a piece of candy, they go nuts. It’s like it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever seen in the world. It’s like, buddy, we had this yesterday. When I pick up my kids from school and I’m a bad parent for this one, I always have a pack of gummies with Spider-Man gummies or Avengers gummies or Princess gummies, whatever we have. And when I pick ’em up, that’s always their first question. Do you have gummies for us? And I say, of course I do. And they go nuts. Like they’ve never had it before. <laugh> kids know how to delight and the joy they have just to spend time with me or my wife just to spend time with their parents doing anything. And how often do I say to them, not right now kids, I gotta get work done. I’m trying to cook, I’m trying to clean, I’m trying to make your dinner. I’ve got work to do.


We have to relearn how to have delight. German theologian, Jurgen Moltmann calls this The theology of play God plays in creation. So we should play in Sabbath. Do you guys know why we skipped Sundays in lint? Anybody know off the top of their head like you any like at the beginning of lint we we’re, we tell 40 days and we’re like, wow, is it really 40 days until Easter? No, we’re not counting Sundays. So it’s a little bit more than 40 days. We’re not counting Sundays. Sorry if this is like blowing your mind right now. Um, Sundays in the early church, I mean it was Easter every Sunday. Sunday was the Lord’s day. Saturday was the Sabbath. Sunday was the Lord’s day because Sunday is the day that the Lord has risen.


Sabbath is a celebration. So if Sunday is your Sabbath, it’s a time to celebrate. Jesus tells us disciples, there’s a time to fast and there’s a time to celebrate right now we’re not fasting. When you celebrate Sabbath, you are not fasting. You are celebrating the life that God has given us. We are celebrating the sacrifice that Jesus made, the resurrection that brings us connection to God. That brings us salvation. The key to delight is to slow down and smell the roses. Take some time to see how good things are, how blessed we are. Now to the practical side of it, what does delight look like for you? These four pillars, this rest, stop, rest, delight and contemplation. This is a framework. This is gonna look different for everybody. That’s why we needed to talk about defining work earlier. What is work for you and what is delight for you?


I enjoy cooking. Some may consider cooking work, but if it’s what I delight in, then cooking on the Sabbath can be my delight. You find that one recipe, you you want to take some time to make it. You go out and you get the ingredients. Things you don’t usually keep around the house cause you wanna make something special. Maybe you delight in pickleball. Pickleball on the Sabbath. I know some of y’all are like stoked to hear that <laugh>, maybe you delight in yard work and work is even in the name, but you delight in yard work. You enjoy that peace and quiet when you get to just take some time with your garden and and put things in order. If that is your delight, that can be your Sabbath. Now the key to this is recognizing your delight may not be your wife’s delight. Your kid’s delight, your friend’s delight. So don’t force your kids to work in the yard with you because it makes you feel good. Because it doesn’t make them feel good. <laugh>, that’s a big key to this. What are they delight in? They made delight in spending time with their friends. And if you want your kids, you wanna invite your kids to participate in Sabbath, that may be something they go do.


Like we said before, Sabbath can take some preparation. So if you have work, if you need to pay the bills, make sure the bills are paid, take care of the work ahead of time, make sure that you can give yourself time to do those things. But cut that time out. You deserve that time to take delight. You deserve that time to cook, to play games, to read books, to sit on the beach. If that is your delight. Make plans with friends. If you don’t like cooking, cook ahead of time. Put something in the freezer. Something you can just throw in the oven or eat out if you got the money for it, plan ahead. Set aside that money so that you can eat out, you can plan to delight. Make sure that your work is taken care of. So one of the things I want you all to work after this, think about what is delight?


What is work? How can I set aside that 24 hour period where I don’t work that day, where I don’t have to worry about the bills or the laundry or the lawn? If that’s your thing, what is delight? How can I plan on giving myself time to delight? If your delight is playing board games with friends, set it up ahead of time. Invite friends over ahead of time. Cuz I, I know at least for us, if you call us today of it’s gonna be tough <laugh>, you can set it up ahead of time. It takes a little bit of planning. If you’re not enjoying it, then what’s the point? Have delight in Sabbath. The last pillar of this Sabbath is contemplation. And we said the Sabbath is holy. The Sabbath is set apart. It’s not just a day off. There’s a little bit of contemplation and connection to have with God.


It’s set apart so that we can focus on God and his glory and his mystery. It’s what makes Sunday so great for the Sabbath, for those of us who aren’t working on Sunday, contemplation is pondering the love of God. It is thinking more intentionally about seeing the invisible God that we worship on Sunday mornings. Where do you see God active in your life? Miracles happen around us all day, all around, but you’ll dismiss every single one of them as a mundane expectation. If you don’t take time to look. And if you don’t spend time seeing God on the Sabbath, it’s no wonder God may feel distant the rest of the week. As with the other three, stopping, resting and delighting. There’s some preparation that comes beforehand. And this is an interesting question. Sunday morning is a great time for contemplation because we’re all here together with singular purpose to worship and recognize God’s power. But what does it mean for you to prepare yourself to receive the word of God?


This practice of Sabbath protects our work and Sabbath is gonna look different for everyone. But these four pillars are a framework to build on, stop, rest, delight and contemplate. Maybe you’ve heard all this and you’re just getting overwhelmed already, but I encourage you to just try it. Yes, really? 24 hours. And I’ve heard Pete Guero and Rich Veloti who are uh, both working at the same church. They talk about it from an evening to morning. What a novel concept. So for Pete Scro, he said that his Sabbath starts 6:00 PM on Friday to 6:00 PM on Saturday, 24 hours. And you even get to sleep for a part of it. 24.


A great way, I think to step into Sabbath because you can clock out and jump right in a little bit of prep time on the end Friday or Saturday if that’s what you do. If you don’t work on Sunday, you can do a 6:00 PM to Saturday to 6:00 PM on Sunday. But that’ll get your 24 hours in. You can be creative with it. But try to have 24 consecutive hours of Sabbath. God knows us and God has gifted us because God knows that self-care matters. And if you just try, you may be surprised. So here’s some prep work for you. Think about what is work for you, what is delight for you? Give yourself time to rest, time to heal, and really consider what does it mean to come ready for worship? And the last question you may ask yourself, what if I mess up is always next week.


We are not saved by the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Please pray with me. Father God, we thank you for this morning. We thank you for the beauty of creation that you surround us with. I pray that you would encourage all of us, give us that nudge. We need to make Sabbath for ourselves to make time because we know that you have gifted us with this blessing. Help us to find our delight and help us to really sit and contemplate the glory and the wonder that you have blessed us. Week in Jesus, Andre. Amen.

Hannah Hunter (34:34):

Hey beautiful people. This is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of reach here at the Gathering Place in Palm Beach Gardens. Thank you for joining us this week. We love getting to share our journey in Christ and community with you. And if you’re in the Palm Beach area, we’d love to get to connect with you in person at our Sunday worship service at 1115. For more information about our community and faith, check out our website at the gathering place Thanks for listening.