Sabbath, Fear and Courage

          Jasen Frelot, Curator of Conversation and Community

          Jasen Frelot, Curator of Conversation and Community

1 John 4:18- There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experience God’s perfect love

Sabbath by its very nature is an act of resistance, even rebellion to the status quo, and as such requires courage to practice it. Sabbath for me this month has meant the refusal to network or conduct formal business outside of the cultivation of already existing relationships. This has meant living with the discomfort that I might be letting an opportunity slip by.  The fear of failure, of being viewed as unproductive or lazy is particularly powerful for me.

As a black man I am constantly struggling with the perceived or actual perception that I don’t work hard enough, that I am a drain on society.  With the added stress and joy of being a father and husband, I live with the knowledge and the weight of black fatherhood and everything that that entails. Sabbath practice thus becomes an act of faith. I rest, refuse to work, sit in silence in defiance of what the world and even I might think of what I am doing.

I let the fear that I might be called lazy, part of the problem, or selfish wash over me in the pursuit of living the kingdom of God. I acknowledge and celebrate abundance allowing the fear of lack to come and go as a spiritual discipline.

Sabbath has compelled me to address injustice in a new way. Reminded through frequent, daily prayer  that the earth and everything in it is the Lord’s I have become more aware of the folly of our scarcity and ownership mindset. By living slowly I am able to see how driven by the fear of lack, injury or loss we are. This fear compels us to live in a cycle of purchasing and hoarding. Despite the overwhelming abundance of our Western society we are paralyzed by the fear that we will run out, that we don’t have enough, that someone we don’t know is coming to take from us. So we buy, we hoard and we demonize each other.  

We are afraid of losing what we believe to be ours so we oppress and exploit one another. And yet, Sabbath practice reminds us that God’s kingdom  is in our very midst. We have been given an earth that provides for and sustains us. We are given each other to love and to be loved by.  There is nothing to fear. There is no need to exploit or oppress one another. We are left only with the humble compulsion to live with compassion.

May God’s kingdom come and may our eyes be opened to the fact that it has already.