A word from Executive Minister, Rev. Patty King Bilyeu

September 2023

          In Exodus 23, Scripture states (as in many other verses) that we should rest.  When we read the creation story, we see that God rested on the seventh day.  We also see in the New Testament that Jesus took time away from the crowds to rest.  If Jesus sought the importance of rest, shouldn’t we?  I just finished a one-month Sabbatical this past August.  Being guilty like most of us, I am an overachiever.  I’ve had to remind myself repeatedly to take days off, to not look at my email on vacation, and to not look down at my phone during dinner.  This was something new for me…to experience moments where I wasn’t taking care of anyone, but myself. I will also confess that I was approaching moments that were telling me that it was time to feed my soul. It was time for me to “remember the Sabbath.”

          We live in a culture that emphasizes work. People are preoccupied with work, but it is rest that is essential for our well-being. A recent Harvard Business Review article states, “Not taking time to rest is one of the worst things you can do for productivity and mental health.” Some take Sundays as a day of rest. But for those of us who are clergy, that doesn’t always happen due to preaching schedules. It’s not only pastors where the idea of Sunday rest doesn’t work either.  Police officers, firefighters, young mothers, medical personnel, family caregivers, air traffic controllers, and so many others can’t take the Sunday rest either. Therefore, we must find a way…a place, and a time for physical rest and spiritual renewal.

          God created us as beings who need regular, restorative, intentional, joyful, and worshipful rest. God created us as beings who need rest and God gives us directives for rest.  And if Jesus needed time to rest, who are we to think we do not need it?!

          My August sabbatical was what I needed.  I experienced art, culture, music, food, and worship in a variety of settings.  I used my French language skills and didn’t embarrass my colleagues, too much.  I also spent time reading and studying in Ohio and visited Pere Marquette State Park outside of St. Louis. Above all, I prayed, prayed, and prayed some more.  My clergy coach told me this week that I was “beaming” and seemed very refreshed.  Thank you, Great Rivers Region for seeing the importance of sabbatical, sabbath rest, education, worship, and renewal.

          May we all “honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.”

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