All posts by Sarah

Sarah is a blogger, musician, and writer. She is a member of Gathering 242, one of the churches among the Summit Fellowships. She is a regular contributor to the Summit blog.

Burdens and Sabbath

I’ve been thinking a lot about rest lately. No, more accurately, God’s been talking to me a lot about rest! A couple of weeks ago I had to miss our gathering, but was filled in that one of us had suggested we meditate on a passage from Jeremiah. As I was reading it again this weekend, one line stood out:

“And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath
or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers.” –Jeremiah 17:22

The passage is talking about honoring the Lord by honoring His commandments. Jeremiah exhorts the people to rest from working. The poetic picture is that if they would cease from carrying burdens on the Sabbath and not carry them through the gates, then what would come through the gates instead would be kings and princes who would sit on the throne of David. That’s the historical context. Please pardon me—I’m going to take a personal idea from it in just a bit.

My favorite day of the week is Saturday. It has become my Sabbath and is the most restful part of my week. In addition to being a literal day off from work, it’s also the night our house/simple church gets together. We meet in one couple’s house, share a meal, and share the body and blood of Christ in symbolic meal as well as in worship, prayer, exhortation, and fellowship. As we gather in Jesus’ name, He fulfills His promise to be among us. We invite and welcome Him to lead and minister to us, His people.

Another passage that has been rolling around in me lately is:

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” –Mark 2:27-28

Jesus is always Lord, but on Saturday nights specifically, Jesus, the Son of Man, is the Lord of our gathering. We experience Him as the Lord of the Sabbath. I experience Him as the Lord of my Sabbath. The Jeremiah passage says not to carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath. As we meet from house to house (Acts 2:42), we carry the burdens of our week into the house and into our gatherings. But we should not carry them back out with us. We should not leave with heavy, wearisome burdens that are hard to bear, grinding down on our shoulders (Matthew 23:4). Jesus is the one who shares his yoke and who gives us rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

When we love each other as Christ loves us, we have great grace, love, mercy, and tenderness for each other. In that kind of love, we can be both bold and humble enough to share with our sisters and brothers what is weighing us down. We become open to rest. We begin to enter the Sabbath rest made for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).

This past Saturday had a tangible example of this. A number of us have been feeling the frustration of our jobs not aligning with our senses of vocation. Our jobs seem to be in the way, and we, myself included, have been feeling the daily grind grinding into our joy and sense of purpose. This week we ended up sharing what pieces we knew of our dreams. We encouraged one another in what steps however small we could be taking right now, right where we are. There were also some common themes to the dreams, which was exciting.

We went into our house church that night burdened by discouragement in where we were at, but left with rest in our souls. We left with the Lord of the Sabbath residing in His rightful place as Lord of our lives—Jesus, descendent of David, as King of our lives. We traded our burdens for rest, and in the rest, Jesus reigns.

Love and Risk

Greetings from Sarah and G242! Here is a brief intro for the first of what will hopefully semi-regular reflections on simple church. Jesus is the head of His church and when we submit to Him and to one another, He directs our gathering as He sees fit. It is amazing to see week after week how He weaves themes together and how many of us are in the same spot. While Jesus ministers to the gathering as a whole, He also ministers to us individually. I say that because below is my summary of this week’s gathering. We would all agree on what the theme of the week was, but different pieces strike different people in different ways. It’s part of belonging to the body of Christ! We are both corporate and individual.

Since at least the beginning of summer, the Holy Spirit has been bringing up the theme of belonging. This past Saturday, He built on it, focusing in on love, and what that love produces, in the midst of belonging. What comes when we are secure in our belonging both to God and to one another? Someone shared that she had been reading Hosea this week. How throughout the book, Israel’s (and through that our) turning to other gods is likened to adultery, and she was struck by the raw emotion of that. Then the book ends with the Lord saying that He loves Israel (and us) so much that He will heal the heart that turns away. In His deep love, He won’t merely forgive, but heal the cause.

We also discussed the idea of church membership. That is should come from belonging to one another. That it should be a formalizing of relationship that is already there, rather than a requirement for the beginning of relationship. There were also personal stories of the faithfulness of God and how He worked through obedience to that membership commitment.

In the midst of this reflection on love and belonging to God and belonging to one another, we asked if anyone needed prayer. Someone shared that he was struggling to reconcile the time and energy demands of work, and the callings and passions in his heart. That he felt in a fog and needed direction. Someone shared a story about Mother Theresa. A man had asked her to pray for clarity. She responded that she could not do that, as she had never had clarity. But what she did have was trust, so she would pray for that. We waited on the Holy Spirit for how to pray. A question that came up once we starting praying was, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid of losing everything?”

Later that night, when I was getting ready for bed, I was reflecting on that question. The verse about perfect love casting out fear came to mind. Love was the context for such a dangerous question. We need to be secure in love—God’s love for us and the one another love of the body of Christ. As we grow in trust and learn to rest in love, we can risk to that level. It is really about trusting God and trusting our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are members one of another. The same Holy Spirit pours the love of God into our hearts, and we are His hands and feet tangibly showing that love to each another. The world will know that we are Christians by our love. And when we Christians know that we are loved, we can risk everything, because we know that the one thing we can’t lose is our belonging.