Sunday, August 31, 2014

Five Simple Sabbath Practices


Genesis 2: 1-3 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

Practice – Remembering Sabbath
To begin remembering Sabbath, I invite you into a simple exercise that may help you today to remember the Sabbath, and to be more deeply in touch with God in prayer, in practice, and in daily living. Leave your eyes open and breathe normally. As you breathe in, I will say, “remember the Sabbath” and as you breathe out, I will say, “and keep it holy.” You may want to repeat these words silently with me.

This is a practice of Sabbath rest, taking ten deep breaths, letting thoughts come and go. For the next ten breaths, your task is to focus all your attention on your breathing. If you have trouble just letting thoughts come and go, think of them as fish swimming past, or birds flying by, or kids running and playing. Just let your thoughts wander, with no focus or attention to past or future. Give your attention to your breathing. There is no goal here – you can’t fail, you can only experience it. You can use this exercise any time to restore your mind to the present moment and to restore your mind to clarity and peace.


Matthew 14: 19-23 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.

Practice: Giving and Receiving Blessing

2. Blessing—Six Ways to Bless Someone

As followers of Jesus, our call is to join him in blessing others. Try one of these six simple ways to bless someone.
  1. Invite someone to share a meal with you.
  2. Pay for the car behind you at a toll stop or drive-through.
  3. Write a note of appreciation to someone.
  4. Pray for someone without telling them.
  5. Compliment a stranger.
  6. Smile for no reason.


Psalm 8: 1-9 O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Practice: Playfulness

We were made to delight—to take delight in the world and to delight one another, to know joy and laughter and play. Below are some simple games to invite you to play:

Use your playful imagination as you look at this shape.

Is it an animal? Do you see a face?

What would happen if you added a line, or color, or features?

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Practice: Honoring the Body

As those who understand ourselves to be made in the image of God, we honor our bodies as much as our spirits. For this practice, simply pay attention to your body for the next minute or so. Pay attention the feeling of air on your skin for 10-60 seconds. Attend to how your clothing feels. Mentally scan your body, from head to toe. Notice any sensations of discomfort or tension, and see if you can soften them. Pay attention to sensations of comfort. Simply sit for a few seconds and pay attention to your body.

Rest and Peace
Mark 4:39-41 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Practice: Resting in God’s presence

Finger Labyrinth

The labyrinth was originally devised as a way for people to take a spiritual pilgrimage by walking a set path. It is not a maze, but a path that leads to the center and back out. A labyrinth can be a way to pray, to contemplate a problem, to meditate, and to rest.

For more on the finger labyrinth, see

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