The Gift of Rhythm

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Reading:  Ecclesiastes 3: 1-13  and Matthew 11: 28-30

Listen to the Sermon here:

Mars bar spirituality

‘…it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil…’ Ecclesiastes 3: 13

Reflect on God’s gift of rhythms in life:

Work – toil, physical/mental; tasks of living; responsibilities

Rest – food, sustenance, refreshment

Play – drink, celebration

How do those work out in your life?

What are your rhythms of the day… the week… the year… seasons of life?

Sabbaths, Sabbaticals, and Jubilees

Take a look at three rhythms that God has ordained:

Sabbath – every 7th day.

Read Exodus 20: 8-11 and Deuteronomy 5: 12-15

What do these passages tell us about the importance of a weekly rhythm? (you may want to look at Exodus 31: 12-17 and the penalties for not keeping the Sabbath) Why did God institute the Sabbath? (Look at the ‘therefore’ in each passage)

Sabbatical – Every 7th year

Read Leviticus 25: 1-7

Jubilee – Every 50th year (7×7)

Read Leviticus 5: 8-13

What do these two passages tell us about why God instituted Sabbath years and Jubilee years?

Read Exodus 23: 10-12

What does this passage and the previous passages tell us about God’s gift of rhythm in our lives?
Think about how they relate to caring for ourselves, caring for others and caring for creation.

Fractured rhythms

What, in our society, is the biggest barrier to encountering God? Think about your own life and what gets in the way of you encountering God.

Read Isaiah 30:15-16 and John 10: 10

In what ways do my own choices and decisions take me away from God’s rhythms?

In what way does our society and culture take me away from (‘steal and kill and destroy’) God’s rhythms?

God’s promise

If we learn to align ourselves with God’s rhythms, God promises us peace, joy, life in all its fullness.

Take some time to read the following passages and remind yourself of God’s promises:

Isaiah 32: 16-20; Isaiah 58: 13-14; John 10: 10; Matt 11: 28-30 (The Message):

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

How do we align to God’s rhythm?

In Jewish tradition, there are three times of prayer each day: morning, afternoon, and evening. Jonathan Sacks, former chief Rabbi, describes these in relation to the three Patriarchs, and different approaches to prayer (Jonathan Sacks, 2009, Covenant and Conversation. Magid Books, pp129-134):

To stand – intentionally seek God, intercede: ‘Abraham got up early in the morning, went to the place where he had stood before Adonai’ (Gen 19:27)

To walk with God – taking time to ponder, meditate, commune with God: Isaac went out in the early evening to walk (ponder, meditate) in the field. (Gen 24:63)

To recognise those unexpected encounters with God – when God ‘bumps into us’: Jacob came to a certain place and stayed the night there… Then suddenly Adonai was standing there next to him; and he said, “I am Adonai, the God of Abraham, your father, and the God of Isaac.” (Gen 28: 11-13)

Some suggestions to take away:

  1. Take some time out to reflect on your current rhythms: daily, weekly, yearly rhythms; think about the balance of work, rest and play
  2. Make space to observe the rhythms of nature: daily rhythms; the seasons
  3. Think about how you can incorporate rhythms of prayer in your life: to stand before God, to walk with God, to recognise when God bumps into you
  4. For further suggestions and resources, take a look at our websites: