Summer worship has always been my favourite kind of Sabbath keeping. Gone are the early mornings of shovelling, clearing off the car and maneuvering through snow packed streets. In summer, the singing seems brighter, the energy lighter and there is extra time for chit chat and lemonade.
And yet, it is easy to get so caught up in the relaxed pace of summer that we forget the most important day of the week; the Sabbath day. We kid ourselves by believing time spent in nature walking garden paths or hiking forest trails can replace the importance of time in Sabbath. However, to buy into this way of thinking is to rob ourselves of a most profound gift. To witness the beauty of God’s creation is only part of feeding our souls.
As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), author, professor and activist, writes,
“Six days a week we wrestle with the world…on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul… The seventh day is a palace in time which we build. It is made of soul, of joy and reticence. In its atmosphere, a discipline is a reminder of the adjacency to eternity.”
Setting aside one hour to join others in praise, song, scripture, reflection, prayer and fellowship feeds a sacred element of our soul, so ancient in fact, it can only be nurtured through this Sabbath keeping. This one hour a week measures immensely in our entire well- being. As the old hymn goes,
“Lord, what a change within us one short hour
Spent in your presence will prevail to make
What heavy burdens from our bosoms take
What parched grounds refresh as with a shower!”
(Lord, what a change within us one short hour, by, Richard Chenevix Trench)