Faith & Environment: Learning What We Can From the Concepts of Sabbath
How did you spend your Sabbath? The gathering on October 14th, “Faith & Environment: Learning What We Can from the Concepts of Sabbath,” was a refreshing look at what Sabbath is for each of us and how it informs our stewardship commitments and work.
Approximately 65 attendees heard from three inspiring speakers: Rev. Allen LaMontagne from a Christian perspective, Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin from a Jewish perspective, and Chief Sewell (Winter Hawk) Fitzhugh from a Native American Indian (Nause Waiwash Band of Indian People) tradition. We were reminded that we are not in charge and, thus, our work should be informed by intimate communication with our God. Sabbath is an invitation – a privilege really – for that intimate communication and reaffirmation of our commitments. Interestingly, all three speakers shared that this privilege of Sabbath is available to all of us equally, meaning there is a social justice in Sabbath because all people are equal before their God and entitled to the same intimacy without regard to hierarchy or societal roles.
So how does Sabbath inform our work? Sabbath is a weekly “touching base” with God to make sure we’re on the right track and doing the right work. Without this touch-point, how easy it can be to veer off in the wrong direction! But it is also a time for contemplative rest and reflection on the purpose of our work, rather than always planning what is yet to be done. As Rev. Allen LaMontagne stated, “Why did God bless the Seventh Day? Because the splendor of life is not merely to DO, but to BE.”
As I reflected on the day, I couldn’t help thinking about how each of our congregations are unique in how we respond to the call for stewardship. One congregation might have the resources to dig up their parking lot and replace it with permeable pavers, while another congregation might plant a community garden on their grounds to model “living simply.” Our responses depend on our volunteer base, our financial capacity, our location, and many other factors. No two congregations can respond in the same way. This seems obvious indeed, but means much more in the context of Sabbath. If we, as a congregation or as a core green ministry, are regularly “touching base” with our Creator, then the work we do – no matter how much or how small – is always giving glory to God.
As Rabbi Nina Beth stated, “Sabbath starts with ‘do six days of work!’” IPC has several programs that offer action and reflection for green ministries, and have speakers who could come out and talk to your group. So, consider reaching out to IPC for guidance on your “six days of work.” Other groups presented at the gathering as well: Interfaith Power and Light, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Pickering Creek Audubon Center and offer opportunities for engagement in the environmental conversation.
Rev. Allen LaMontagne closed his talk with an invitation to all congregations to organize a communal Sabbath because “the benefits of God’s creation are for all!” IPC seconds that! Find time as a congregation or as a ministry to rest together, soak in God’s love together, and reflect on where you are going with your work.
Kudos to the planning committee for pulling off another rejuvenating gathering!
Jodi Rose (firstname.lastname@example.org)