Bishop Ward reminds us of the significance of Sabbath and how this simple act can be counter cultural, like many of Jesus’ acts during his time on earth. To learn more about this concept of Sabbath, consider attending Duke Divinity School’s 2014 Convocation: October 13-14.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ. My friends, our common wealth is in heaven. This is the way Paul describes our life together. We are citizens of heaven even as we live our journey upon this earth.
One of the ways in which we remember our heavenly citizenship is the keeping of Sabbath. Sabbath is God’s great gift to us. In the creation story, we remember that in six days God created everything that is, and on the seventh day God rested. This rest is a rest to which we are invited.
It is a time of ceasing from the regularity of work of the other six days. It’s a time to worship together. To eat wonderful food, to go for walks outside in the brilliant autumn sunshine. It is a day to be restored and to be regathered to God.
If we fail to stop on the seventh day, we can trick ourselves into thinking that all that we do is accomplished by our effort. Sabbath is a sort of resistance to that way of life in the world. Instead, Sabbath is a time in which we remember that God is the giver of every breath of life. God is the one who produces fruit out of our labors. It is God who gives us the gift of life.
Twenty-five years ago, Bishop Will Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas, professors at Duke Divinity School, wrote a book called Resident Aliens. The theme verse of the book is the one that I recited to you. Our common wealth is in heaven.
At Convocation next week at Duke Divinity School we will regather around this very theme. There will be panels and sermons and discussions of this idea that we who follow Christ are citizens of heaven. And as such, we need one another. We need our common shared life. We need Sabbath.
We need all of these things so that we will be reminded whose we are. And when we know that we are God’s, our life is relaxed in God. Our life is confident through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our life is gently but powerfully loving, through the Lordship of Christ. May you, this day, know that you indeed are a citizen of heaven, wherever you find yourself this day.