Article: Sabbath Rest

Today (Thursday) is the last “kind of” day of vacation before flying home Friday. I say “kind of” because I am working on a number of things today including a sermon for Sunday. “Winging it” is not in my vocabulary when it comes to Sunday morning although it may seem like it at times!

Yet, as I sit here in front of my computer these words come to mind, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Exodus 20:8 Sabbath rest is more difficult for me than others… as you know I work weekends. I have to find other ways to find rest. One of those ways is to go to Northern Wisconsin specifically the Northern Highland State Forest in Vilas County. My family started vacationing (fishing) there in the 1920’s. I have a postcard from 1927 from a family member who was talking about the fishing while on vacation.

In the movie “Field of Dreams”, Terrence Mann says this to Ray Kinsella the farmer who built a baseball field in the middle of his corn field, “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball…”  I feel that way about being among the trees and lakes of Northern Wisconsin, it has been my one constant in a life of change. Whether living in Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada or California, returning to the timeless woods and lakes of my youth is Sabbath rest for me.

I totally understand that this is a privilege and a gift. Many people around the world never travel much beyond where they were born because of economic circumstances.

Many of you have a special place that you have visited many times or you treasure the memory of a beautifully unique location that you traveled to in the past. If you have a place like that, it evokes strong memories. It does for me. I reflected on the 4 generations of family members that have traveled to the north woods of Wisconsin with me over the years, some are still alive, some are not. Being in the woods also brings great peace and serenity as well. There is an audible exhale of breath when I arrive.  And yes, there is (at times) a happiness that brings a tear to my eye.

I thank God for Sabbath rest. I thank God for a place to find peace and rest. I thank God that Rachel likes nature too!

Every time, I walk into our cabin I take off my shoes. I can’t help but think of God’s words to Moses as approached the burning bush, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5  Although it may not be special to everyone, it is holy ground for me.

With all of that said, my mind has stopped looking north and is now looking west back to California. I am ready to come home and see my Bethel family on Sunday. Vacation Bible School begins on Monday and I can’t wait! There is joy to be found at church and at home! (Our dogs miss us too.)  A joy that I can’t find anywhere else in the world.

Verse three of our state song speaks to how I feel about coming home tomorrow with one addition…

I love your old gray Missions – love your vineyards stretching far.
I love you, California, with your Golden Gate ajar.
I love your purple sun- sets, love your skies of azure blue.
I love you, California; I just can’t help loving you.

And I would I add, I especially love the people of California (at Bethel).

God bless,
Pr. Ben

2 thoughts on “Article: Sabbath Rest

  1. I can say that I love you, California. It’s MY state, and except for two years at Pacific Lutheran College/University, I’m still here, but a red part in the blue section! Today is Jane Malison’s memorial service. We certainly miss her. I have known her family for several decades, and Trish and Rob are still at Bethel so we will see them today.

    It sounds as if you had a good vacation. We always enjoyed our vacations at the family cabin at Mount Hermon and were able to take part in some of their ministry there. A lot of happy memories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *