A Sabbath Rest

Below is the letter Bill Moran, our Lead Elder shared with the church family during morning worship on May 21, 2017. As stated, this letter comes after months of prayer and deep conversation about the challenges we are facing as a church family. I am sharing this letter here at the request of the Elders so that everyone might see it and have a chance to ‘hear’ not just the information, but the heart from which this letter springs. I again want to publicly thank the Elders for their loving leadership of our church family, my family and myself during these challenging days.

A Sabbath Rest

I am writing to you as a representative of the elders to bring to your attention what we feel is both an urgent need and a unique opportunity. Please allow me to first set the context of this need/opportunity by taking you back to the book of beginnings, Genesis. We know from (Gen 1:1) to (Gen 2:1) that God made all that exists in our universe in six days, but before He allowed the pattern of evening and morning to repeat again and again, God did one more thing. God took one more evening and morning and blessed it with “rest”. The Hebrew word is shâbath and it means to cease or to desist or to be ended. When God gave the Ten Commandments we see the pattern repeated in (Ex 20:11). “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the Earth, the seas and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day: Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” The pattern is repeated but the word translated “Sabbath” is not shâbath but nuwach. It is found again in (Ex 31:17) and gives the added meaning of “refreshed”. A Sabbath is a time of refreshing. What do you think of when you think of being refreshed? Some think it is just a button on their computer keyboard. I prefer to think back to younger days, sitting on our porch with a tall glass of lemonade after cutting the grass on a dry, hot August afternoon. I would soon be replenished and rejuvenated, ready for whatever was next for me.

These thoughts take me back to the need/opportunity presented before us at this time. First the need: we as a church family have been serving faithfully year after year, watching the Lord bless our efforts but also expecting the Lord to increase our influence and our numbers in the community. I believe we have a very solid reputation in our community but something still seems to be hindering our growth. We have the mandate from our Lord to make disciples and we want our efforts to be directed by the Holy Spirit. The elders believe the answers are not found in doing more, pushing harder, etc. Those who are serving now are fatigued and in need of relief. This brings me to the other side of the slash: a unique opportunity.

I have been with this church family for over 40 years and we have never had any type of Sabbatical. In some way it seems like a radical move but from a biblical standpoint there seems to be much merit. Look at Lev 26. In this chapter we see both the blessings of obedience of the Sabbath and the penalties of disobedience. Look at some of the benefits; (vs 4) rain for the land to yield fruit and produce, (vs 5) food to the full and live securely, (vs 6) peace – no sword will pass through the land, no harmful beasts, (vs 7) you will chase your enemies, 5 will chase 100, (vs 9) you will be fruitful and multiply, and especially (vs 11 & 12) the Lord will dwell among you and be your God and you will be my people. On the other hand, (vs 14 to 34) talk about what will happen if they disobey and break the Lord’s commandments. It’s not good. Four different verses in that section state that the Lord will strike or punish them seven times for their sins. (vs 34) “Then the land will enjoy its Sabbaths all the days of desolation, while you are in your enemies land; then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths.” It seems as if the Lord takes the Sabbath seriously and maybe we should consider it as well.

I have said all of this to say that we as a church family are going to practice a Sabbatical rest this summer. We are planning to do this July 14th through August 12th. This is our unique opportunity – unique because we have never done this before, and opportunity because we all need a time of refreshing, rejuvenating and replenishing. This will mean Pastor Dan will not be available during this time. This also means we will not be having VBS this summer. This will mean that all 9:30am Sunday classes will not be held for these four weeks. This means there will be no administrative meetings (Board, Elders, DM Council, Deaconesses) during these four weeks. We are working out all the logistical details so while the pastor is away we will still be having regular Sunday services (10:45am) with guest speakers. I know this will bring mixed emotions for many in the church family, but those who have served faithfully, both leadership and staff, need a break. We are making sure all essential needs will be met during this time of Sabbatical. Our desire is that the rest and refreshment that can only come from a deeper walk and closeness with the Lord will be experienced by the entire church family, from our pastor on down. To that end, we are asking that you will use this Sabbatical to intentionally lean into your relationship with the Lord and your relationships in our church family.

Please join the pastor, Elders, Board, DM council and the entire leadership team as we seek the Lord’s direction and blessing moving forward in this Sabbatical rest. Please keep us in your prayers!!

Thank you, in His service

Bill Moran, Lead Elder

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