Lent Devotions: Resting in the Sabbath

March 15, 2017

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).

By Rev. Aimee Moiso

Exodus 20:8

Does God need rest? Does the infinite power that crafted the intricacies of the universe look out at its goodness and say, “Whew, I’m pooped. Where’s my recliner?”

On the seventh day of creation God rested, which is why, according to Exodus 20, we are to do the same. One day a week, no labor for the family or slaves or farm animals or immigrants. Rest instead, because it makes for a holy Sabbath.

I typically hear this passage interpreted to mean we need one day a week to unplug. The Sabbath was made for people – a gift from God for our weary souls. In addition to having limited energy stores, we put too much stock in our labors, and we need to remember to stop, relax, and remember God.

But that brings me back to my first question: Does God need rest? Did God take on too much in creation? Does God need to stop, relax, and remember God?

Somewhere I read that God resting after creation is an expression of God’s vulnerability. After all, what could be more vulnerable than creating humans in your own image, knowing they have the capacity to both love and betray you? What could be more vulnerable than loving something you created so much that one day you become enfleshed in its fragile mortality?

The sheer magnitude of what God had done in creation must have provoked a deep, shaky breath on God’s part. Maybe God needed a day to contemplate the enormity of vulnerability.

It’s clear we need rest. We’re so exhausted that when the airplane seatbelt light makes us sit down for 10 minutes the majority of us can’t keep our eyes open. But I like to think the holiness of the Sabbath is also about attending to our vulnerability. Taking time to remember we are finite, interconnected creatures might be the very thing that cultivates the empathy and compassion we need to choose over betrayal.

Holy indeed. 

Rev. Aimee Moiso earned a master in divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary. She is also a board trustee at the seminary. 

The Sabbath was made for people – a gift from God for our weary souls. 

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