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Sabbath Lincolnshire Press Release

PRESS RELEASE

145 Methodist Churches in Lincolnshire about to celebrate a very special Sabbath. 

On the first Sunday in Lent this year, as Christians commemorate the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, Methodists across Greater Lincolnshire are being invited to take the Sabbath seriously.

Inspired by the Chief Rabbi’s initiative Shabbat UK, the Chair of the Lincolnshire Methodist District, the Revd Bruce Thompson, has called for a concentrated and prayerful response to the Third Commandment to remember and keep the Sabbath holy.

‘It is often said that Jews haven’t just kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews’, commented Mr Thompson.  ‘Scattered, marginalised and often persecuted, practising Jews have retained an identity despite being a minority community.  The Church seems to be losing more influence over the world’s affairs.  It is therefore incumbent upon Christians to retain and further develop an identity that will not only create a deeper sense of belonging but also impact positively upon the wider community.’

On hearing of the initiative the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has sent greetings to the Methodist Churches in Lincolnshire: 

‘I was delighted to hear of plans for ‘Sabbath Lincolnshire’ and I send my very best wishes to everyone taking part.

The inclusion of the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments, given by God to Moses at Mount Sinai, is an indication of its centrality in our lives. The Sabbath provides an opportunity for us to enter a day when we can ‘see the wood for the trees’. It is a time when we can focus on all that which is of true value to us – our faith, our spirituality, our families and our communities. On the Sabbath we can invest in that which we live for and not just that which we live with. It is a day on which we can spend more time on real, rather than virtual communications and relationships – something which can be challenging in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

May you derive as much inspiration and fulfilment from this project as we, in the Jewish community have from ShabbatUK over recent years and may all of your continued endeavours be blessed.’

Methodists in Lincolnshire are invited to refrain from using Social Media for just the daylight hours on Sunday 18 February; to avoid doing any shopping, gardening, cleaning the car or even watching TV.

The Revds Katie Deakins and Sarah Parkin, ministers in Cleethorpes and Caistor respectively have produced a resource booklet to encourage and inspire participation.  In it there is focus on a special meal that can be prepared in advance of the day, taking time to chat and listen to those around the table and to play board games together afterwards:

‘The Sabbath is meant to be a time of worship to the Lord God and a time of family sharing.  After your meal, do not rush off to do other things, sit and enjoy one another’s company.  Take time to listen to each other, chat about what has happened in your week.  Give everyone around your table a voice - from the old right through to the young.’

Mr Thompson believes that this is the beginning of a long project.  ‘This is just the first year; we hope that in coming years more and more people will be attracted to celebrating Sabbath Lincolnshire.  It is our intention to develop the resource material and to explore more fully what Sabbath means.  Our environment is suffering as a consequence of seemingly endless productivity without pause.  It would be good for us all to give ourselves and nature a rest.  Our spiritual forebears knew exactly what they were doing when they felt called to pause for one day each week and worship God.’

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Sabbath Lincolnshire

Sabbath Lincolnshire - Sunday 18th Febuary

Join others in the District by making the first Sunday in Lent an extra special Sunday.....

Resource Booklet - for printing back to back and folding into a booklet

Resource Booklet - ready to read version

Message from Chief Rabbi

Sabbath Lincolnshire - First Sunday in Lent, 18th February

What are we hoping to achieve?

Sabbath provides spiritual rhythm and a sense of celebration in that one day each week is sacred to God and reserved for family, but we recognise that Sundays are not always a day of rest.  Those involved in church find it to be a demanding day.  Stewards arrive early at church, set up and are the last to leave.  They, and so many others, do not find it easy to relax on a Sunday; those who rush round taking people to church in cars, those for whom this is the only day they can do certain tasks both in the home and elsewhere.  This is not to mention those who work on a Sunday.

Sundays are also the time when we in church all come together and we seize this as an opportunity to do church business either before or after worship.  The consequence is that we diminish any sense of worship, yet Sabbath is supposed to be a healing day; just one day in each week when we can pause, ponder and pray without the distractions and the demands of the other six days.  Without this rhythm something is lost and we are all the worse for it as individuals, in relationship, in community and indeed the environment.

We recognise that the Jewish Shabbat is a Friday night through to Saturday night which is of course at the end of the week and therefore more naturally given to rest and recuperation whilst the Christian Sabbath is the first day of the week and subconsciously we are gearing ourselves up for the week ahead.

So what will be our plan be for the day?

It doesn’t sound much fun to suggest that we will not engage in social media, that we will not send any emails (or check them), that we will not make phone calls unnecessarily, that we not do our shopping or our gardening, that we will only drive if it is absolutely essential and that we might try to avoid TV!  Not washing the car may be the easiest of all!  But even if we can’t stick rigidly to all of this then we could make some effort in some areas and provide for ourselves a greater degree of space to pray and reflect in order that we reacquaint ourselves with Sabbath rest. 

But doing this together, across our District will encourage us to do more than we had imagined possible.  How effective Sabbath Lincolnshire will be is down to each individual.

Please advertise the day through your weekly notices and monthly magazines. 

Every blessing

Bruce

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