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By Bishop Todd Townshend

Some will recall that I took a short sabbath leave for the first ten weeks of the calendar year. I am most grateful for this opportunity to rest, read, reflect, pray, prepare, and praise God for every good thing in my life, and in our life together.

It was a very restorative time and it allowed for some concentrated time to focus on preparing a draft of diocesan plan which will be circulated through the spring for consultation and then to Diocesan Council and Synod’s for consideration later this year. Please watch for opportunities for you to have input into improving the plan.

One gift that was given to me, and the book I started with while on leave, is Abraham Heschel’s “The Sabbath”.

Heschel quickly brings the reader’s focus to how sabbath is primarily about the realm of sacred time (especially the weekly day of Sabbath). Sabbath is a testimony to God’s presence in time, not just in space. He writes, “there is a realm of time where this goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord.”

With his help, I came to better understand why God, even God, would take the seventh day of creation for, what is usually translated, “rest”.  However, “Menuha which we usually render with ‘rest’ means here much more than withdrawal from labor and exertion, more than freedom from toil and strain or activity of any kind. Menuha is not a negative concept but something real and intrinsically positive... ‘What was created on the seventh day? Tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose.’ (Genesis)...To the biblical mind menuha is the same as happiness and stillness, as peace and harmony...In later times menuha became a synonym for the life in the world to come, for eternal life.”

I find this beautiful and somehow quite settling. This helps me to see that it really isn’t just “rest” that we need, although I was grateful for it. For the Christian, it is a sense of peace in Christ.

I pray this peace for you all.