This morning at church we sang a song called "No Longer Slaves" by Bethel. It hit me perfectly as I walk the path away from fear. The chorus is simple, "I'm no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God!" A perfect mantra for those moments when fear tries to take hold once again.
"I'm so sorry fear, but you do not live here anymore! While I am not new to being a child of God, I have decided to actually live out what I always knew to be true. So fear, you'll understand when I say that you may not stay here."
Today is the Jewish New Year, Rosh ha'Shanah. It is a time to remember that God's words are sweet. Psalm 119:103 says, "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth". As I reflect on this verse, I realize there can absolutely be no room in my heart for fear. God's promises are all I need to reside in my heart. They are a soothing balm for my soul. So, as I say L'Shanah Tova, I will allow the sweet to permeate as I evict the fear from my life.
"...The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath..." (Mark 2:27 NRSV)
The Sabbath, just like the rest of the holy days, was given to us as a beautiful gift. Some have come to view these moments with dread and heaviness. This is not from God! It was never His intention to punish us or restrain us with these appointed times. If you really think about it, if someone gave you a day off and said, "Stop, rest, reset!" would you really consider it a burden? It may feel strange to purposefully stop work, especially in our work-driven society, but once you have entered into that time of rest, you find the blessings that come with slowing down.
The Sabbath marks the end of a long week. It is the period on your sentence. It is a time to wind down, release the stress of the week, and focus on family and faith. Being purposeful in setting this time aside to worship and reset is a wonderful way to go into the upcoming week. Attending services on Saturday or Sunday is not the focus here. Taking time out in your home to enjoy a meal with friends and family, worship and share Scripture, this is the focus. You can very easily spend the Sabbath at home, then attend your worship services on Sunday. Please don't become hung up on this detail.
God, our Creator, also rested on the seventh day. "So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that He had done in creation" (Genesis 2:3 NRSV). It was important enough for God to rest after He created. It should be important for us to rest after a week of work. It is honors God for us to celebrate the Sabbath, and it honors His gift to us.
A few years ago, my family was introduced to celebrating the Biblical holidays. We enjoyed them so much that we help on to the tradition, but since we are not in a community/church that celebrates, we have not dug into them the way we did that first year. God has been putting it on my heart to start celebrating a Shabbat meal every Friday night, and leaving it open to anyone who would like to join. I've been nervous to do that, but then something happened that made me realize that I needed to be willing to step out in faith and live what I believe.
Now, let me tell you what happened. Out of the blue, my 16 year old daughter stepped into my doorway and said, "What if we celebrated the holidays this year for reals?" I had to laugh because we have started the bad habit of watching YouTube videos, discussing the holiday, then moving on with our lives declaring that we "celebrated". Even Hanukkah became a drive-by candle lighting. I knew exactly what she was saying. She was saying what I was feeling. What would happen if I began to live what I preached? What would happen if I gave in completely and allowed God to steer my life?
What if I lived holy unafraid? What would happen?
So, we decided. Starting in September, we will celebrate the Sabbath and we will celebrate the holidays. We will open our celebrations up to anyone who would like to attend. And, we will blog about it. We will each document our experiences here. We will see just how God uses us and blesses us when we open ourselves up to live completely in His will.
I'm so very excited! One more week to study and plan, but mostly, pray that we enter this time with excitement and joy. It's going to be so good!!!
In Hebrew, this means "our dance". It is through our dance that healing in found. Come before the throne and dance for your King!