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A Note from Pastor Bruce

Summer Sabbath Keeping

Beloved People of God,

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful conference as part of the Larger Church Network within the ELCA. There was a shared feeling, because of Covid and the institutional decline of membership within the greater church, that we must work as if we need to make up for lost time. Even if the level of activity is where it was a few years ago, many leaders sense more urgency about the ministry we are called to do and there was

some grief for areas of ministry that have not grown as was hoped. Several mentioned that their youth ministry has not yet taken on the shape that it once took. There is palpable anxiety in many church finance committees. Many consistently offer opportunities for in-person interactions, but they cannot seem to attract more than half of the congregation to attend the given service. This is compounded by the thinking that we should be able to,

“Idea our way out of this,” and it seems that wheels simply spin.

One of our speakers suggested, “Before we continue to spin our wheels trying to figure out what else we can do to bring more people back to church or solve any one of the pressing problems that require our immediate attention, we should see this as an opportunity to remember one of the core practices of our faith: keeping Sabbath.” Sabbath is both the day we set apart to worship our Lord but is also all the recognition of the holiness of time in which we take time in the business of our days to, “tend to the fire within.”

One of the pastors responded, “When the church mirrors the hard-driving culture around us, Sabbath sounds much like sloth, one of the seven deadly sins.”

We were reminded that keeping the Sabbath wasn’t given as a good idea, but as a command to, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy.” In reality this is not so much a command as an amazing gift of grace. Dorothy C. Bass, editor of ‘Practicing Our Faith,’ describes the unique gift of Sabbath in this way:

Sabbath keeping is not about taking a day off but about being recalled to our knowledge of and gratitude for God’s activity in creating the world, giving liberty to captives, and overcoming the powers of death.

With summer just around the corner, if you find yourself saying, “I’m so busy – I don’t have time to complete all my work,” I would invite you to reflect on how to integrate Sabbath keeping into your life. Keeping Sabbath is not one more task we add to our mammoth to-do list. Rather, keeping Sabbath is a biblical way of approaching all of life, including our work. Explore the Sabbath keeping resources at to learn more about creating this sustainable rhythm in your life.

I know. Sabbath keeping can sound like a luxury for, “first world” Christians. To be clear, Sabbath keeping is not the same as taking a vacation. What if we keep Sabbath by spending less on things we don’t need in order to share more with those who do need? What if part of our working involved sharing time, resources, and space with others so that they can keep Sabbath as we do? As Dorothy C. Bass reminds us, keeping Sabbath is more than just a day off.

We keep Sabbath to affirm our faith and trust in the providential care of God — for us and for the world.

See you on the Sabbath Day,

Pastor Bruce

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