At the Wycliffe College retreat, held at Canterbury Hills, Ancaster, ON, on the weekend of 7-9 September, Major Holly Patterson of the Salvation Army spoke to the assembly on Sabbath observance. Christine Curley, a second year M.Div. student provided the following report on Major Patterson's reflection.
Bright and early on Saturday morning of the retreat (the traditional Sabbath day of the Jews) Major Holly Patterson spoke to us about Sabbath keeping. In today's busy world, in which all of us play many roles, we need to take time to focus on God and our primary relationship with Him.
Holly spoke of Sabbath Principles, and started with the Ten Commandments. The commandment to keep the Sabbath holy is found in the middle of the Ten, and is a serious concept for God. In order to worship God and God only, and in turn to have proper relationships with those around us, this needs to be central. It allows us time to focus on God without other distractions, and then we can be in right relations with others. It is Kairos Time, or God's time that we dwell in on the Sabbath, and therefore is a radical protest to the world's time that ever pushes us to work harder and longer. It makes us realize that there is holiness in time.
We need to have a regular rhythm. This idea of a week and in that week a day off is unique to God's people. The Sabbath gives us time to remember and reflect on who God is. It gives us time to rest, and this should include everyone, even the land! The group groped to figure out how we can practically live this out since people seem to work seven days a week, and it is hard for the whole community to be able to rest. The Sabbath combats the idea that doing is better than simply being, and can help combat depression, the world's leading illness. The Sabbath allows us to re-evaluate our lives and be able to rejoice in God's work in our world.
The most important thing to remember is that the Sabbath is not about a list of "don'ts". The Sabbath is meant to rejuvenate and refresh. It is a time to be devoted to God throughout the whole community, so the individual, the family, and the community needs to work to make this a reality in our lives today.