The Bishop's Corner A Christian View of the Sabbath
By Fr. Phil Berghuis
Bishop Menees is on vacation which makes me think of the importance of rest. One of the hardest things for clergy to do is take time to rest. Looking out on a congregation or a diocese, it can feel like there’s so much to be done and that there’s no time to rest, but we know that’s not really true.
One of the things we see throughout scripture is the importance of rest. After the six days of creation, Genesis tells us,
"And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
Instead of work preventing rest, work necessitates rest. Rather than looking forward at future work and out of fear putting off our rest, we should look back at the work we’ve done and spend time resting in God, giving thanks for the work He’s done through us. Putting off rest can often be about pride, thinking we’re the ones who need to be there, whereas rest reminds us that God is sovereign and things do run without us being present.
In Exodus, this Sabbath rest in God becomes codified and legalized for the Israelites. The fourth commandment from Exodus 10 says,
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
What had been something of God to imitate before now becomes a commandment for Israel to follow. The Israelites should work six days and then rest on the seventh. And that seventh day isn’t just a break, because of God’s rest it’s been made holy and we should act accordingly. In some ways the end of this commandment is almost humorous. It reminds people that the reason for this law is God’s rest after creation, but in some ways it almost sounds like a challenge, “If even God rests, what makes you think you can go without it?”
While we see rest after work in the Old Testament, in the New Testament we often see rest as something that’s necessary before work. In the synoptic gospels Jesus’ baptism is always followed by the Holy Spirit throwing him out into the wilderness. This isn’t a time where Jesus is being productive, setting the groundwork and organizing for his upcoming years of ministry, it’s him taking a preparatory rest, retreating into the desert to be alone with God before the work he knows is coming.
It’s often the same way with us. Instead of busying ourselves and trying to put the weight of everything on our shoulders, we need to remember that even in the midst of all of that, we need to prioritize God; he should still be our focus. It’s also a reminder that we can’t do things just by ourselves; we need God at work in our lives even to accomplish the smallest tasks.
As Christians we should practice this both weekly as well as annually. Weekly we should see our Sundays as our Sabbaths. Rather than being linked to the seventh day of creation it’s now linked to the resurrection, the eighth day of creation. While we often understand the importance of worship on this day, the Sabbath should be about more than just the worship service. Our Sabbath should be a whole day of resting in God, of both giving thanks for the week that’s over and asking for God’s grace for the week to come. We can show this in a number of ways, relaxing with our families, reading scripture or other spiritual writings, even other hobbies and pastimes where we can see God’s presence in our lives. We know from Matthew 12 that we shouldn’t be pharisaical in our refusal to work on the Sabbath, but we still need to remember that Jesus Christ is Lord of the Sabbath.
In addition to a weekly Sabbath we should also practice the annual equivalent of a Sabbath, a retreat. Retreats are times when we can draw away from the world and focus more on God and our relationship with him. This could be done with a trip to a retreat house (I personally enjoy St. Anthony’s Retreat Center in Three Rivers) but it could also be us taking a retreat in our own homes, taking a break from the world to focus on our relationship with God.
As you go through your lives as Christians, remember the importance of rest, not just physical rest, but rest in God. This physical activity should also have a spiritual component to it. Rest is about more than just a time out; it’s about giving thanks for the work God has done in our lives and asking for God’s assistance in our days ahead. Rest is one of the most humbling things we can do because rest forces us to rely on others, and it forces us to acknowledge God’s role in our lives.
Christian fellowship night
Reflections from the former archdeacon
By The Ven. Donald A. Seeks
Dr. Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, Part 1
The late Dr. Hughes was a great champion of the Holy Scriptures. Countless Christians of many denominations have been blessed by his books, commentaries, articles, his preaching, his teaching, and his wise counsel. Just a few days prior to his untimely death, I had asked him whether he would consider coming to San Joaquin to record some video. He had agreed to do so, but it was not to be.
I believe that Dr. Hughes was one of the greatest evangelical Anglican scholars of our age. Born in Australia and at work in Britain, he came to the U.S. in 1963 to teach theology along with his prolific writing. He was an authority on the English Reformers, who were very influential in forming what we now call Anglicanism. In his book on the Reformers, first published in 1965, he quotes at length about the Reformer’s views on the significance and the authority of the Holy Bible. For example, Archbishop Cranmer in his Preface to the Great Bible of 1539: “Here may all manner of persons, men, women, young, old, learned, unlearned, rich, poor, priests, laymen, lards, ladies, officers, tenants, and mean men, virgins, wives, widows, lawyers, merchants, …and all manner of persons of what estate or condition soever they may be, may in this Book learn all things that they ought to believe, what they ought to do, and what they should not do, as well as concerning Almighty God, as also concerning themselves and others.”
William Whitaker, a professor of divinity at Cambridge, wrote: “Scripture is essential because it contains the necessary doctrine without which we cannot be saved. Thus, the doctrine and religion of God is protected from being corrupted, destroyed, or forgotten. The Scriptures serve to guarantee the certainty of doctrine for these things which are taught orally have not the same firmness and certainty as those which are written and consigned (in the Bible).”
Bishop Jewel wrote in his Treatise on the Holy Scriptures: “If we seek to know the sacraments of the Church, what they are; if we would be instructed in (the sacraments); if we would learn to know our Creator, and to put the difference between the Creator and a creature; if we desire to know what this present life is, and what is the life to come; if we would believe in God and call upon the Name of God, and do worship unto God; if we would be settled in perfect zeal and true knowledge; if we would have an upright conscience towards God; if we would know what is the true Church; it is very needful that we hear (and understand) the Word of God. There is no other word that teaches us salvation.”
Dr. Hughes wrote that the “unhesitating belief” of the Reformers was that the Holy Bible is the supreme authority in all that affects the Church and its members because “God, and none other, is its primary Author.”
This, he said, was “coupled with their own transforming experience of the truth and the power of its message.” To support this view, he quotes Dr. James Pilkington who was also a theological professor at Cambridge and later under Queen Elizabeth I became the Bishop of Durham (!): “Scripture comes not first from man, but from God; and therefore, God is to be taken as the Author of it, and not man. “The Gospel says, ‘It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you’. (St. Matthew 10:20). And St. Peter says, ‘...no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.’” Pilkington also quoted St. Augustine, who had written, “The Scripture is a letter sent from God the Creator unto man His creature.”
Another Reformer, Bishop Hugh Latimer, wrote, “The excellency of this Word is so great, and of so high dignity, that there is no earthly thing to be compared unto it. The Author thereof is so great, that is, God Himself, eternal, almighty, everlasting. The Scripture, because it is of Him, is also great, eternal, most mighty and holy.”
And finally, Bishop of London Nicholas Ridley wrote: “Holy Scripture has not been devised by the wit of man, but taught from heaven by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; this holy and wholesome true Word teaches us truly our bounden duty towards our Lord God in every point, what His blessed will and pleasure is, … what His eternal Word wills us both to believe and so also to do…” God, he says, “inspired the Holy Apostles by the Holy Spirit, to write and leave behind them the same things that they taught, which as they did proceed of the Spirit of truth… were sufficient to the obtaining of eternal salvation.”
Next month, I will continue with Dr. Hughes’ teachings on the sense of Scripture, the Scripture and the Church, and the practical purpose of Scripture.
60th Annual convention, november 8th, 2019
9:30 am—Mass at St. Luke’s Anglican Church (which meets at Our Lady of Mercy), 459 W. 21st St., Merced, CA 95340 11:15 am—Convening at the Hoffmeister Center for business (at Central Presbyterian Church), 1920 Canal St., Merced, CA 95340
The Bishop's Note
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