What does it mean to rest? The ancient Hebrew idea of Sabbath offers an answer, but it’s far more than just stopping our activity for a while. It is also far more than just personal time off. For the Bible, the Sabbath is the foundation for Jesus’ teaching about God’s Reign. Out of the Sabbath day flowed the Sabbath year – an entire year of rest for people, animals, and the land. Then, out of this flowed the Jubilee – the celebration of the fiftieth year in which everyone and everything rested, and in which debts were cancelled, slaves were freed, and all land was returned to its original owners. The whole idea of rest in the Scriptures is tied into this system that ensured that no one was exploited or overworked, and nothing was abused or turned into a wasteland through overuse. But, for this kind of rest to happen we need to trust in God’s wisdom, God’s provision, and the mutual care of all of God’s creation. This is the message of God’s Reign that Jesus preached.

Unless we can trust that we will be sustained, we cannot rest. If we believe that our wellbeing is entirely in our own hands, we cannot rest. If we are afraid that someone else will come and take what is ours, we will never rest. In our world, where we are increasingly driven by achievement, consumption, and self-protection, it is no wonder that we are burning out. But, if we are to find rest – for ourselves and for those around us – we will need to learn to embrace God’s ways of simplicity, service, and sacrifice. Only once we are all safe, provided for and respected will our society find the rest it craves. This is the prophetic message of this week’s meditations.

To download this week’s reflections in PDF format, click here.