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.’