A Sabbath Rest for the Vicar

In Gen. 2: 2 we read, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” If God is omnipotent—if He has all power—it doesn’t make much sense that He would need to “rest.” Abi?

The Hebrew word translated “rested” in Gen. 2:2 is the word shabat which means “to cease or stop.” The understanding is that God “stopped” His work; He “ceased” creating on the seventh day.

God did not merely “rest” on the seventh day; He “stopped creating.” Everything He desired to create had been made. He looked at His creation, declared it “very good”, and ceased from His activity. Simply put, God’s “rest” was not due to His being tired but to His being completely finished with His creative work.

In the time of Jesus, we see a ministry fatigue setting in on His disciples. He instructs them to “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31 KJV). Christians should imitate Jesus and, “Come apart, before you come apart.” Never has there been a more timely solution to a timeless problem.

If we are not careful, well-meaning people will unknowingly applaud us to our graves!

Sabbath for the busy pastor, is actually a bold, counter-cultural resistance to the present day obsession with success in Ministry. Sabbath literally means to “stop,” and that is not easy for us to do.

How often do we forget that Sabbath is not a suggestion to consider, it is a command to obey? The fourth (and longest) of the Ten Commandments is,“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”

The Sabbath is an opportunity to break away from the pressures of everyday living.

I have often been so busy with “doing ministry” that I have little time to be with God. How silly is this? Being too busy is one of the top symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality – “doing for God instead of being with God.”

For us, the principle of the Sabbath is extremely important. Sabbath is a time to stop our work, not when it is completed, but when we need to stop. It is pacing our lives and recognizing our human limitations.  Sabbath frees us from the need to obtain God’s acceptance by being productive. It is resting from our efforts, and trusting God’s.

Sabbath can be so refreshing to our body, mind and spirit. Short times of reflection, rest and play are what God designed us to need. Though it’s difficult to make time for snatches of Sabbath in our schedule, it’s crucial to our well-being and longevity. Whether it is booking a couple hours every week to sit and listen to God’s voice or planning a spiritual retreat each quarter – we need to practice the Sabbath.

And so for your vicar is a couple of days of Sabbath rest, wish us well, and remember us in your prayers.

Have a glorious week, and may it very joyful.


Your Vicar and friend


The Revd. Canon Kiri Wakama