A look back and going forward to pinpoint what Sabbath means for me now.
|There was so much talk today about Sabbath and what it meant for a person's expression of their own Faith in God. As I go forward I consider what it will mean for the new place I am in.
I recall the blue laws growing up. The emphasis was upon setting apart the day of the Lord as a say different than any other. Over time all this aura seemed to go away. Even the liquor stores are open on Sunday. In terms of Old Testament background, there is an awe that celebrates God's creation and recreation in the form of work that is done to the glory of God. Over time this lead to all manner of laws to keep this reverence in place.
Then Jesus is sent by God to put it all in perspective. Is the Sabbath for the healing and well being of God or the persons God has created. Jesus lets all know clearly that it is a time to celebrate what God can do, as opposed to what man is refusing to do on that one day to celebrate God's rule.
I look at my own faith development. In the early days it was all about trying to stay out of trouble. What might I do to sever my relationship to God. I found myself thinking about what I was not doing, as if now breaking certain commandments was enough to share that God ruled my life. I spent time at a Nazarene College that put this understanding to the test. I could only hear from the religious perception other students held:
1. Don't dance
2. Don't play cards
3. Don't watch movies
It all seemed kind of strict and fear inspiring to me. I reasoned that I was not a Nazarene anyway and did what I wanted in regard to these rules. That does not mean it did not take it's toll on me. I was always wondering what my lack of conformity meant, especially as I became a minister major.
In my third year at the college, I became mentally ill. It was one thing that I feared the most. I had a brother who was a year younger diagnosed with Schizophrenia and feared that I might get sick like him. I had a manic episode, which lead to me being carted off to a hospital for treatment. I was in a state of panic and at the same time resigned t have to deal with a punishment. Mental illness made no sense to me. It might as well of been God's way of saying you have done something wrong and now you have to pay the price.
For the space of about a year I experienced a disturbance that threatened my faith in myself and humanity. There were times I wondered what my understanding of God mattered. Who cared? After all I entered a land from which there seemed to be no escape. After all this was what happened to my brother Kurt. During that year, I was put on medicine that was supposed to make me feel better. Soon after that I became depressed even to the point of feeling like I wanted to commit suicide, but of course I was too scared to do that. My concept of God that of just waiting to squash me like a bug. I had no choices in those days. I was a willing victim. This lasted until the depressive fog lifted. I recall a vision of Christ of the cross saying that I was understood and shortly after that rising up out of my depressive stupor wanting to live.
I was on the brink of going back to college, after a time of feeling well enough to share with others good enough to be normal. I ended up in a state hospital, after experiencing a time of acting out. I was there for eight long everlasting months. I found myself acting and thinking crazy. I thought people had given up on me. I rarely heard from persons on the outside. One of staff I felt closest to said I was committed to the hospital for life. Not long after that he would sexually abuse me.
I did find my way to this present moment. Sunday is a time to rest and look back. God is good. I am in a new place as I have been in new places in previous transitions since my hospitalization at Taunton State hospital in and around the years 1976-1977.
My new adventure in Erie Pennsylvania begs me to consider what Sunday means all over again. I look back wondering what to look forward to. I need to be in the moment and can only do this as I let go of what gets cumbersome, my past. I have been here almost three weeks. What does it mean to celebrate who God is even as God celebrates me. Part of the challenge in Erie is being faced with starting over. I came to Kansas City from Massachusetts when I was 23 years old. I was in Kansas City 35 years before I came to Erie. I came because of the love for my wife who is from Erie. I am faced with seeking friendship, I am faced with needing to get a new job, I am faced with considering what it means for me to be a minister in this new context. And I wait for Sharon. I am homesick for my children and my brothers and sisters in Massachusetts. It is Sunday and God is here with me as I type. God says that I am not alone and in time I will understand why Sunday is a day for me to look forward to. As God has called me, I will see what that means. People have been waiting for me and looking for me. I consider the scripture in I Kings about what happened when Elijah got depressed. God had more work for him to do and God has more work for me to do. All I need to do is wait.