Sabbath & Your Humanity
by Bethany Allen
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.).
If you’re up for it, and your setting is quiet, spend a few minutes in silence. Why silence? Because we live in a busy, noisy world, under the non-stop assault of digital distraction. In the midst of all the chaos, it’s hard at times to hear one another, let alone the voice of God. As we gather together as a family, we want to hear what the Father is saying to and through each of us, and respond in turn. A great way to do that is to begin with a moment of quiet.
Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Spend a little time in triads (15-20 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, consider dividing into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
One by one, work through the group having everyone offer a brief update on life throughout the last week, then let each person answer the following questions:
1. What was helpful for you about this week’s teaching?
2. After having done Sabbath for a few weeks, what for you, has been the greatest challenge? What has been the easiest part for you to step into?
Transition back to one large group (10-15 minutes)
Ask a few questions about the last week’s Practice:
1. How did last week’s Practice go for you?
2. How did you specifically incorporate gratitude into your Sabbath this week? What did it look like for you?
Read this Overview
We’ve all heard the saying: Wherever you go, there you are. When it comes to the Practice of Sabbath, this is no less true. It makes no difference what personality type you are, what enneagram number you relate to, your job title, relationship status or the amount of years you’ve spent in therapy, at the end of the day all you are left with is, well, you – with all of your desires, your failures, your temperament, your hopes, your dreams and your disappointments.
The frustrating thing is that no matter how hard we try to escape this reality, we can’t! There is no amount of striving or achievement, no dose of activity or planning, that can free us from this universal truth. And while for some, being alone with themselves doesn't sound so bad, it is safe to assume that, for most of us, there is at the very least a challenge to it.
In the Practice of Sabbath we are welcomed into the space where human nature meets our God-given desire for more. We wade into the tender places of our soul where both our limitations and our potentials are revealed. If we’ve learned anything over the past few weeks, it is that Sabbath, by its very nature, demands a return – to our humanity and its limitations and to the God who created us.
And it’s here that we are tempted to believe that these emotions, thoughts, and aches that we experience are simply hurdles to jump over or a mountain to summit before we can actually “enter into Sabbath.” But, in reality, it is only through this facing of ourselves and of God that we find the gateway to the intimacy and freedom we long to experience so deeply. When we sit with ourselves before the Spirit, we find in the midst of our nagging internal angst, a deeper stillness and quieting of our souls. So this week, we want to spend some time doing just that.
Open to the Bible together (10 minutes)
Have someone read Isaiah 30v15–18
1. Take a minute to quietly reflect on this question: If it is in repentance and rest that we experience salvation, then in what areas of your own life do you need to either/both repent and rest?
2. This passage reminds us that the Lord is gracious and compassionate. In what ways do you need to receive God’s grace and compassion in this Practice?
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to find deep rest in your life.
Talk about the coming week’s Practice as a Community (10–15 minutes)
The Practice for this week is fairly simple. Take the time during this week’s Sabbath to work through the following rhythms:
1. Welcome the Holy Spirit:
Put away your phone or any other distractions, settle into your time/place, and get comfortable.
Invite the Spirit’s presence.
Ask the Spirit to help you to be present as well.
2. Acknowledge your humanity:
In this space take inventory of your emotions, physical needs, fears, pain, experiences, needs, wants and desires. You can do this by asking yourself or journaling through some of the following questions:
- Where do I hurt?
- Good or bad, what is it that I want right now?
- Where does my soul feel heavy?
- Where do I feel stuck?
- Positive or negative, what happened this last week that is still sitting with me?
- Next, take another few minutes to acknowledge your limitations, failures, strengths, weaknesses, and temptations.
After doing this, ask the Holy Spirit to show you any places that he may be calling you to greater dependency, to confession, or to repentance.
3. Notice the ache:
Turn inward and notice the longing(s) of your soul.
Take a few minutes and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the following:
- What is my soul longing for?
- What are You stirring in my heart?
- What am I aching for that is good?
Remember to give God the freedom to do and say what he wants.
4. Wait for the encounter:
Invite the Holy Spirit to make you aware of God’s presence.
Wait on God and spend some time resting in the waiting. Remember that your encounter with God will likely come through the ordinary, and it may be found and celebrated throughout your Sabbath day.
Work through these discussion questions (5-10 minutes)
1. What are some helpful rhythms you have already incorporated into your Sabbath?
2. Is there anything about this Practice that you anticipate to be challenging?
3. Is there anything about this Practice that you are especially looking forward to?