Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
We are busy people — either by design or by choice or by providence. Work and school and other responsibilities tend to eat up our time — our weekdays, our weeknights, our weekends. We love what we do and we gain a lot from the commitments that we’ve made and it’s possible that the lives we’ve built for ourselves (and the culture within which we live them) have a disordered relationship with Rest.
Commandment number #4 of the Ten Commandments requires us to practice the Sabbath. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus gestures to matters of work and of rest. He promises us that his yoke is easy and his burden, light, that we will find rest for our souls. He challenges us to hear that the worker who works a full day and the worker who is only able to work for an hour will be rewarded the same. He even goes off on his own over and over to get away from the crowds and to take a quiet minute alone.
This page serves as the catch-all for our church’s efforts to practice a theologically-robust and socially-conscious commitment to Rest.
The Jubilee weekend is kind of a re-branding of our “Feasts and Festivals,” as we think the word itself suggests. But while “jubilee” may resound in our ears with the quality of something like “festival,” it is an ancient word that signals something far more radical. Jubilee has its origins in the Mosaic law of the Old Testament (cf. Leviticus 25). The jubilee was an extension of Sabbath rest, but on a much larger scale: the Sabbath commands God’s faithful people to cease from labor for one day a week, but the jubilee commands them to forgive debts, release slaves and indentured servants, and reestablish equity in the ownership of land. Jubilee invites us to completely reimagine our relationship to work, to profit, to debt, and to the land itself, which is the source of all wealth. It asks us to creatively engage in a totally different order of life than what the world expects of us. It is probably what Jesus had in mind when he described the terms of life in the Kingdom of Heaven: forgiving debts, and being forgiven of our debts.
Maybe erasing all debts, liberating all slaves, and cancelling all mortgages is not exactly in our purview this weekend, but in the Spirit of St Francis, whose feast we also celebrate on this Jubilee Weekend, what worldly commitment do you think you might be able to “cancel” for a few days? What kind of liberation might you make in terms of your schedule of activities? What cancellation of debt might you apply, for example, to your off-hours email?
From Friday evening to Sunday morning (approximately 36 hours), we invite you to think about how you might spend your time differently: as far as possible, committing to a time characterized by the qualities of the Kingdom of Heaven: not working, but resting; not competing, but playing; not acquiring, but giving; not securing, but releasing; not suffering anxiety, but celebrating Jubilee in thanksgiving for life.
You might consider the following practices:
- turning off your phone/iPad/laptop for an extended period of time
- committing not to do work/homework/email for a whole day
- deciding that Saturday is NOT the day to get caught up on households chores/projects
- donating to organizations that focus on restorative justice, indigenous land trust, and debt relief, in accord with Leviticus 25 (like the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust or the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights)
- making time simply to be idle, to be bored, to daydream/imagine/notice.
- try keeping time without a watch, maybe by praying the daily offices
In Spring 2020, we did a month and a half long weekly book study on The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel, in pursuit of a better understanding of the fourth commandment to observe the Sabbath and to rest from our labors and to cultivate our imaginations for the shape of the eternal life. Our discussions…