Summer Sabbath is one of the regular rhythms here at River City, where we make a conscious effort at the end of each summer to rest.
First of all, Sabbath rest is something God instituted for the nation of Israel as he delivered them out of slavery in the book of Exodus. He instructed them to honor the Sabbath day — work six days and rest on the seventh, just like He did at Creation. Remember, this was a nation who had just spent 400 years as slaves. They didn’t get a day off for 400 years! Every second of their existence was based on how well they could perform, and how much they could produce.
So it may have come as a shock, that at the outset of their journey as the people of God headed to the Promised Land, he commanded them to rest. This wasn’t just an opportunity to stop working and sleep in. More importantly, it was a sign to Israel, and the other nations watching this story unfold, that Israel’s God loved them because he loved them, not because of what they could accomplish or produce.
That kind of rest is still offered to all Believers today! We are invited in Hebrews 4 to do whatever we can to enter that kind of rest; rest from drifting into disobedience and thinking it’s all about us. We’re invited to enter the true Rest that is Jesus’ finished work for us. He is the one building the Church, and not even hell itself can stop it! He works through us, to be sure, and as Believers we’re called to link arms with Jesus and pull hard knowing that he’s pulling with us. So to step away for rest doesn't mean stepping out of line with him (that would be disobedient)… it's actually leaning in closer, being fully dependent on Him! That’s the rest we’re after during Summer Sabbath.
There are three main goals for Summer Sabbath at River City:
Sabbath break is first of all a chance to stop and be thankful. It’s a great opportunity to take some time to look back over the past year, and be thankful. Thank God for his work through his word, the baptisms we celebrated, his grace to us in the times of Communion and Worship, the connections and friendships that have developed, and much more.
The second part of the Summer Sabbath is to rest for a week to catch our breath before the new Church year kicks off. It’s also a great off-ramp for anyone who needs a break from serving, and also a great on-ramp for people who want to get involved and begin serving. So if you’re needing a break from your current role(s), contact your team leader and let them know. But if you’re able and willing to serve once or twice a month for the next year, here are a few areas that need additional help:
Last, the main reason for a Sabbath rest is to start into a new Church year with physical rest. Sometimes we can just get on the “church-wheel” and try to keep it spinning. But we are all human, and especially with setup and teardown every week, it’s easy to get tired. Galatians 6:9 encourages us to not grow weary in doing good, because in due time we will reap a harvest, if we don’t give up. So we don’t want to grow so weary in “making church happen” that we burn out and give up.
We want to see that harvest that Galatians 6:9 talks about! We want to see people coming to faith in Christ, getting baptized, learning to walk with Jesus in joy through hardship and pain, and freely giving to others what they have received from Christ. On top of that, we have the promise that Jesus is building his Church through ordinary people who put their trust in Him.
So, in anticipation of that harvest, we take a day of rest because we know we will need strength for the race. We pause to reflect on the fact that Jesus doesn’t need us to build His church, but we are thankful for the blessing it is to be part of His chosen people.
EXPECTATIONS FOR SUMMER SABBATH
So what does River City leadership expect us to do on Summer Sabbath?
First of all, there are no expectations or rules, other than that we want it to be a day of rest for you. We would encourage you to shut off screens and devices, and be relational. Maybe it’s with neighbors or family or even just spending extended quiet time with the Lord, but perhaps make it a day to fast from media influences.
Secondly, it could also be a great chance to worship with another local church. This can be a great way to be encouraged by other local fellowships, hearing from other preachers, and seeing that River City isn’t the only place where God is at work through his Word. If you want recommendations of where to attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll help you out.
Regardless what you decide to do, our primary goal is that you are able to connect with God in a meaningful way that revolves around resting in the finished work of Jesus!
Grace and peace,