Rest is Sacred
Beloved in Christ,
This past weekend, I was able to unplug and spent a wonderful few days resting, spending time with my family, and watching lots of baseball. I'm returning today with the fresh energy, clarity, and perspective that only real time away can provide. At last week's clergy webinar, I urged our priests and deacons in the strongest possible terms to schedule some significant time away this summer. The past year has left everyone carrying compounded weariness, and all of us who are called to lay and ordained leadership in the church are due for a solid time out in the coming months. I hope you will take it, and I hope you will work together to fully support one another in arranging for it.
In our culture that values achievement and production above all else, rest can often feel like an indulgence, like something we have to apologize for. In the biblical tradition, however, rest isn't a suggestion, it's a commandment. Practicing sabbath carries the same imperative as not murdering.
God doesn't simply command sabbath as a nod to wellness or self-care. It's an act of social and economic resistance to the lie that human beings are only valuable because of what they produce. The ten commandments are given to the people of Israel to help shape a different social economy than what they experienced as slaves under Pharaoh. The social economy of Pharaoh says work, because people are there to be exploited to produce. The social economy of God says rest, because human beings have inherent worth and are made for love.
Keeping sabbath takes commitment and intention, and just about everything in our world and in ourselves will resist it. It's not only critical for our well-being, it's a witness to God's value system that upends the world, it's a pledge to work to form spaces to protect and insist on rest for the poor and outcast, and it's a reminder that God is God and we are not. The world will carry on just fine when we have to delay responding to that e-mail or returning that phone call.
Take some rest this summer, loved ones. Your soul, and the world's soul, need it so very much.
Grace and Peace,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in MN