Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopal priest and professor from Georgia is generally considered one of the best preachers in the USA of any religious persuasion.
According to the rabbis, those who observe Sabbath observe all the other commandments. Practicing it over and over again they become accomplished at saying no, which is how they gradually become able to resist the culture’s killing rhythms of drivenness and depletion, compulsion and collapse. And yet those who practice Sabbath, a little or a lot, know that there is another kind of resistance at work.
One of my favorite prayers in Gates of Prayer, the New Union Prayer Book, is called “Welcoming Sabbath” and it goes like this:
Our noisy day has now descended with the sun beyond our sight.If you can hear the welcome in that prayer, then perhaps you can hear the dis-ease in it as well. How is your own deep fire doing, by the way? Are you pretty confident that you have enough heat and warmth and light within yourself to get you through the night? Once you have turned off the computer and hung up the care keys, once you have decided to take one whole day off from earning your own salvation, are you ready to wrestle with the brawny angels who show up?
In the silence of our praying place we close the door upon hectic joys and fears, the accomplishments and anguish of the week we have left behind.
What was but moments ago the substance of our life has become memory; what we did must now be woven into what we are.
On this day we shall not do, but be.
We are to walk the path of our humanity, no longer ride unseeing through a world we do not touch and only vaguely sense.
No longer can we tear the world apart to make our fire.
On this day heat and warmth and light must come from deep within ourselves.