Sabbath is a gift that everyone has already been given.
Though for most it sits unwrapped or if opened once, now tucked away unused.
It is a given. Not because we are entitled to it. Not because we earned it. But because we need it.
And so, it’s ours. A gift of mercy.
A Gift of Mercy
Whoa, what? The first time I heard this, that Sabbath was a merciful gift, my head tilted to the right in curiosity and a bit of skepticism.
Mercy seems like something severe, a pardon, like before an execution.
I realized that maybe I don’t know what that word actually means. Especially if I’ve only really come across it back in my English literature major days reading Middlemarch and Emma.
- Kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation
- Compassionate treatment of those in distress
- A blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion
Sabbath as a gift of mercy.
An End and A Beginning
Kindness or help, compassionate treatment — yes, those are a gift.
People who are in a very bad or desperate situation, those in distress — yup, that speaks to humanity and also to the natural difficulty of these evolved lives we lead.
And so we’ve been given sabbath, as a blessing, approval that helps us do something. That something? To begin the cycle again, refreshed, renewed, reconnected, resolved. To start again, and perhaps to do better.
We see this cycle in nature. Perhaps not weekly with everything, though we know the annual cycle well.
We see the plants and animals go into hibernation each winter, they withdraw, they retreat into themselves or their dens, they rest. And then they emerge again.
So whether you find meaning in this blessing, this gift, coming from “divine favor or compassion” or not, there is a sense that it is part of a bigger system. Of the way things work.
And in order to work, there must also be rest. A pause. A break. An opportunity to notice the work, the effort, even the accomplishment.
This is why our weekly break of Sabbath gratefully becomes a must not a should in our lives.