Sermon On The Mat #5: Living Grace Through Sabbath Keeping

Why are we so rarely in the state of grace? 

I believe the reason is that we rarely have the courage to expand ourselves fully in the moment.  Living with grace is knowing what time it is, and then acting in sync with it.  If we draw from Ecclesiastes Chapter 3: “there is a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to reap; a time to kill, and a time to heal…” In the Hindu belief, the idea of karma yoga, or the way of detached action also shares the same idea.  If it is time to plant, plant.  If it’s time to harvest, harvest.  But if your mind is on harvesting when it is time to plant, you will most likely plant poorly and your harvest will be small.  The Bhagavad-Gita states, “No one exists for even an instant without performing action: however unwilling, every being is forced to act by the qualities of nature.  Always perform with detachment any action you must do; performing action with detachment, one achieves supreme good.”

If somehow we can live every moment to the fullest then nothing will be left over.  You must use up each moment and become empty again in order to live the next one, and the next, and so on.  So this is where we come to knowing what time it is and putting down the burden of time.  There should be nothing left a the end of your day or the end of your life!

So how then do we do this?

By making Shabbos.  We can drop all that we carry and do for one day each week and live as if we trust God’s grace. In this way the narrow mind learns the power of trust and grace.  It stops worrying so much and can function more efficiently without having to carry the past or future around as a heavy cloak.  Shabbos is surrendering to the greater reality of God as the place you are here and now. It is more than a rest day; it is a day of grace.  A day to celebrate what is and not creating what might be. It is a day for turning off distractions, releasing obligations and allowing yourself to hear your SELF, that still small voice of holiness that can get so easily drowned out.

So here are some ideas to create a Sabbath day:

Open and close your Sabbath with the lighting of candles: Even if your Sabbath is just a few hours, begin by lighting multiple candles.  Why multiple? Well, in Jewish tradition, the minimum is two to symbolize the state of duality that usually precedes Shabbos.  You come with a split mind so you light multiple candles to honor where you are. The candles offer a singular light so you are beginning with two and aiming at one!!!

Offer a blessing:  Say a small prayer or read something inspirational that you hope will embody your purpose for this time.

Prepare a simple meal and offer thanks before eating it.

Bless children, loved ones, and friends.

Take a walk and enjoy nature.

Go slow: There is no rushing on Shabbos.  Do everything with attention and care, and you will find a rhythm that is your “Shabbos speed.”

Pamper yourself: Take a bath.  Enjoy a long nap. Surround yourself with fragrances you love and books you want to read and people you want to chat with.  Make love.

Make a to do list for this day and post it:  NOTHING

Get off the grid: Turn off the computer, the tv, the phone and anything else that can be a distraction.

Close the Shabbos with candles: I learned that the Jewish people who keep Shabbos, close it with a ceremony called Havdallah. It marks the return of the week.  The candle they use to close Shabbos is different from the candles lit at the start of Shabbos.  This candle is a single braided candle made of wicks.  So beginning with multiple candles to honor your diversity as you move toward unity, you end with one candle that signifies unity blossoming into diversity.

Here is a prayer to end your time:

May this be a week of faith;

Faith in truth, faith in love, faith in friendship, and faith in you how manifests all things and their opposite.

May my labors hasten the perfection of the world, and may kindness awaken those deadened by despair.

May this week arrive with gentleness, good fortune, blessing, success, good health, prosperity, justice and peace.

May it be a week for uplifting the children and honoring the aged.

May this be a week of constructive purpose for me, for my loved ones, and for all who dwell upon this good earth.

Amen

 

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