Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sabbath as Relationship Building - apart from prescribed time parameters.

I (Marty) have been gearing up for travel – and have been traveling – for the past number of weeks.

I’ve been in Bangkok, Thailand for the past 40 hours – and it took me 30 hours to get here in flights across the globe. (I am exactly 12 time zones away – half-way-round-the-world – from home.) In the previous weeks I took time to travel with my family to Colorado – and with my wife to the East Coast – NC and VA.

The days in NC and VA with my wife – did not feel like a Sabbath, though I was “on vacation.” We camped on the beach near Kitty Hawk, NC – and then in the Shenandoah Mountains where I had opportunity to do a day-hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT). We also spent several nice nights in hotels in Richmond and Williamsburg. We spent a lot of time on the road – between our locations for the days we were there . It did not feel like Sabbath – but, I wonder if it was truly a kind-of-Sabbath – in so far as it was intentional and specific time with my wife – her and I alone, which is always delightful.

Our family trip to Colorado was more haphazard and last minute. It did not feel like a sabbath. I have two friends facing different procedures related to cancer. But, it proved to be a kind of Sabbath – though, again, harried with road time. I developed good friendships with many persons when I was a pastor in Colorado in the mid 1990s. One of those families has built a large cabin in northwest of Colorado Springs near Pike’s Peak, outside Woodland Park. That family hosted my family in their home – and, additionally, hosted a BBQ for several families that were connected to my ministry years in Colorado.

In both cases of my travel with wife and with family – I was busy – I was driving from location to location with my spouse – or I was driving to and from persons in hospitals and in dinner settings. I was busy. I was active. But it was a-kind-of-Sabbath. It was most definitely a break from my “six-day-a-week” work week – as I was not going into the office on the weeks that I was out of State – nor was I at the church facilitating church work.

I was busy and I was active, but I was engaged in shared relational energy – more than work.

I did not go to make the hospital calls in Colorado because I was “pastoring” someone – but because I was visiting friends.

I did not drive all over NC and VA because I had to – but because we chose to.

One of the issues I would not about Sabbath – in this regard, then – is that Sabbath is about rest and relaxation – but it does not have to be a total cessation of all activity. Rather, Sabbath can include activity – but activity not motivated toward some goal or work or obligation – but activity shaped in the context of relational inspiration and joyful fellowship.

In NC and VA – I shared active, busy daily routines – but full of vibrant life in conversation with my wife!

In CO – I shared active, busy daily routines – but full of vibrant life in conversation with shared friends and family.

Sabbath has been defined as being about occupational inactivity – but perhaps Sabbath is as much about intentional relational activity.

Sabbath has been defined as “having” to be “at church” in prescribed parameters – but perhaps Sabbath is as much about being with family and friends as being “somewhere” at “some time.”

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