Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. Genesis 2:1-3 (NKJV)
The word “Sanctify” seems like a big Christian word. But it is really a simple definition for what seems to be a complicated process. It just means for something to be made holy (acceptable to God) and set aside for His use; for the good of everything.
In the verses above in Genesis, God blessed the seventh day and set it apart for His use. It was later referred to as the “Sabbath”. It was to be the day that was set aside to rest and acknowledge worship of Jehovah. In some faith traditions the sabbath is still set apart each week. For all of us, we have our “down time” as they say in the U.S, time to down tools and relax. It’s hard to do that in these lockdown weeks however. A number of people have said to me this week “what day is it?….was that only yesterday?” The days can begin to merge into one without some intentional rhythm and the creation of space for sabbath; rest.
Today leaders are our focus of thanksgiving and prayer. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson who has worked tirelessly in recent weeks and who himself needs rest to recover from the virus. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who has had to be available to work with her cabinet and the whole Scottish government for all the challenges of changing legislation and operations in this unprecedented time. We remember today all who work in local government too as they enact the legislation and emergency funding to bring support to those who are not able to work or who do not have food and shelter or safety during the lock down. And at this time of real uncertainty for everyone, we also spare a thought for all charities today. Charities are the ones who plug the gaps, often gaping, in society to serve the vulnerable and overlooked. We think of charity leaders and trustees (including churches) grappling with decisions to furlough employees in order to survive financially and have a charity to come back to after this crisis, also looking at what essential services can continue right now in health and safety.
This is an intense time and each day brings a new dimension of priority and urgency but there is also a slowing down going on. As we have fewer choices about going out and what to do with our time we can choose to concentrate on what is before us right now and be present. To be present however, you need to be relaxed and rested and so for our leaders and for all of us, God’s call today is a reminder to take sabbath.
Our souls find rest in you alone O God for you have given us everything we need for life.