Message of Faith – Honor the Sabbath

This weeks Message of Faith submitted by Rev. Joanne Rowden

Honor the Sabbath

When I was growing up, Sunday was a family day filled with sharing time together attending church, eating a meal, and simply enjoying the day. It was the one day a week my dad never worked. It was the one day of the week virtually no stores were open, with the exception of a lone party store in town. I remember many Sundays after church visiting that party store with my mom hoping they had what she needed. Oh how times have changed!

woman-praying-WEBWhile Sunday used to be the day everyone went to church, today there are many things vying for our attention. Children may have practice or games on Sunday. Shopping malls and grocery stores are open. Major sporting events take place. Sunday no longer belongs to the church. Have we, as a society, directly opposed the commandment, “Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy?”
There are those that think we have. In fact, there are whole groups arguing about whether Saturday or Sunday is the true Sabbath day. In 1610, the State of Virginia had a law that not only would businesses be closed on Sunday, but participation in church service was mandatory. In 1961, the Supreme Court upheld the Sabbath Laws ruling that it was not unconstitutional to require businesses to close on Sunday. Over time, as more shoppers supported business being open on Sunday, the adherence to the law began loosening. Today, there is very little to distinguish between Sunday and any other day of the week in our world.

Of course, Unity Spiritual Center is open every Sunday morning with worship services at 9 and 11 a.m. Everyone is encouraged to attend our services to be uplifted, inspired, and open to transformation. We have opportunities to fellowship and connect with like minds. The Sabbath experience is alive and well on Sunday mornings, but in Unity we know that the Sabbath is not limited to Sundays.

In Keep a True Lent, Charles Fillmore tells us, “In the true Sabbath our mind is turned to God every moment, and we are ever ready to acknowledge His holy presence in our heart and life.” In other words, the Sabbath experience is always available to us. It is not limited to a certain day of the week, therefore we do not need to debate whether the Sabbath is Saturday or Sunday. We enter into the Sabbath experience every time we turn our attention to God and allow his Presence to fill our thoughts, words and actions. As Rev. Jim Rosemergy tells us so simply in A Recent Revelation, “The Sabbath is a state in which we rest and allow God to move into our lives.”

Any moment can be a holy moment. This idea has its roots in Judaism according to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. During the first six days of creation, God created our material world from the earth and the sky, to the seas and the trees, to the plants and the animals, and finally humankind. On the seventh day, Rabbi Heschel offers us the perspective that a sanctuary of time was created. With the creation of this sanctuary of time, God declared it holy. The commandment to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy is our invitation to remember the sanctity of time.
We live in a secular world dominated by time. We have appointments to keep, work days to follow, and activities to fill up our time. We can get caught up in moving from task to task, always feeling behind, never even pausing to consciously connect with the Divine in any moment. We honor the Sabbath as we find that space of stillness within, consciously connect to God, and allow our thoughts, words and actions to proceed from that foundation.

This week, make the choice to rest throughout your days. Set the intention to become aware of allowing God to move in your life. This is the state of the Sabbath rest. Set a timer to remind you each hour to take a breath and acknowledge God. You can make the choice to take a break from getting caught up in the worry and fear generated by the news. Set the intention to take 5-10 minutes to just “be” in each day. Whatever it looks like for you, make the choice to set a Sabbath time throughout this week and intentionally practice the presence of God.


Rev. Joanne Rowden
Rev. Joanne Rowden

Rev. Joanne Rowden is the senior minister at Unity Spiritual Center in Westlake, OH. She served as the minister at Unity in Edinboro for 13 years before taking on this new position on November 1, 2014. She lives in Hinckley, OH with her husband.

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