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Pastor’s Desk: How do you refocus?

Posted on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 at 3:44 pm

Pastor Sean McIntryre, Centralia United Methodist Church

What do you do to reset? Exercise? Read a book? Listen to a podcast? Listen to music? Take a nap? Clean the house? We all have various practices that allow us to reset ourselves, refocus on the things we want to focus on. Whether we think about the reason we do things or not, I’m positive you have a reset routine. Whether it is daily like the things listed above, weekly like going to church or monthly family gatherings or yearly vacations. We all do this because we know what it feels like to be so entrenched in busyness that we get distracted by many things, pulled in many different directions and we just need a reset.

A time that allows us to not prioritize the urgent tasks of life, but instead focus on the truly important things.

This is why God instituted the practice of Sabbath. Sabbath is a day of rest once per week. It comes from the creation story, actually. In the creation story in Genesis, God creates the world and everything in it for six days and on the seventh day, God rested. God wasn’t just exhausted from all that creating, but what it means that God rested is that God actually dwelled with the creation. And there was no eighth day! God dwelling with the creation and ongoing Sabbath that would never end was God’s design. Until we broke that design by turning away from God and choosing selfishness instead. And because of this we LONG for the type of rest that God originally designed us for, because we get distracted and our priori.

So, the Sabbath lets us drop the distractions and prioritize the things that matter.

But God recognized that weekly was not enough, so God commands a Sabbath year every seventh year. Every seventh year, there would be no work, land would no longer be owned by anyone, but would be shared to provide for all and ALL debts would be completely canceled (See Deuteronomy 15).

God sees that in our brokenness, we would live primarily for ourselves and so we would constantly be living for more. But, the problem with the search for more is that it always leaves others with less. In the Sabbath year, the wealthy would be challenged to change their hearts and focus on those in need and those in need would be cared for and given fresh starts. God’s concern is with the spiritual health of the wealthy and spiritual and physical health of the poor.

Naturally, some would abide by the rule faithfully, but many would abide by the rule in the legal sense, but miss God’s purpose and vision behind the law. See, they would stop offering loans that would fall on the seventh year so that they would not have any debt to cancel.

For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard