Reblog: Autism Parents and the Church: Sabbath

 

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My own health is the reason we’re not going to church today, although the girls will later take part in the St. George’s Day parade at the local C. of E. I understand the importance of Sabbath rest. Rest is, in fact, integral to my own recovery. When I was a single mother of three, my son’s autism meant I rarely rested, and church was definitely not restful or restorative! But I had such a yearning for God that I couldn’t not go. The friends I made through Celebrate Recovery, the Jesus-focussed programme and the beautiful fellowship all changed my life.

This is an excellent post from The Left Hand of Ehud blog (very good blog, do pop over there and have a read).

The Left Hand of Ehud: Matt's Bible Blog

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Sometimes, things get too much.

You’ve run out of tolerance for being yelled at or hit. Or you’re fed up of arguing with doctors, with schools, with random passers-by. Or you’re sick of the staring and the tutting and the whispered comments. Or you’re tired of the guilt and the stress and the routine, you’re tired of being tired.

There are so many autism parents who, for a thousand and one reasons, don’t get to go to church. And that can mean that each day becomes just like the last; seven days you labour with no end in sight. You don’t get to stop, to reflect, to press pause and breathe. You don’t get to rest your soul, to feed your spirit, to lie down in those symbolic green pastures, to drink from those metaphorical still waters.

You don’t get to Sabbath.

(Sometimes you don’t get to Sabbath…

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Quiet Sunday in the Rain: A Little Bit of Heaven

Despite the rain, we have had an enjoyable family weekend. We took Grandma out for lunch at a lovely English country pub with home-cooked food. Afterwards, we drove through little villages filled with chocolate box cottages, past fields whose edges were scattered with perky daisies and nodding poppies. I couldn’t help but marvel, even in all the rain, even under the greyest of grey English skies, how incredibly beautiful the landscape is. It feels more like home than anywhere else. I don’t mean that any particular stretch of countryside, or any particular place feels like home, I just mean the act of being in the wandering lanes feels like home, especially in the rain, passing fields and hedgerows and elegant cypresses. The grey skies and the rain seem to make the green even greener; even the air is scented with a fresh, full-bodied scent that one can only find on an English summer’s afternoon in the rain. It’s the type of smell that makes me think of scones and jam and teapots and camping and gentle chatter and… well, home. I wonder if heaven will be a little bit like that? I hope so.

Rain, Steam and Speed by J.M.W. Turner, 1844 (wonderful painting – so ahead of its time!)

Anyway, now we’re home. Grandma is back at the care home. My dear MIL becomes distressed and very confused if she’s still out by late afternoon so nowadays we make sure she’s back in time for tea. She was tiring by the end anyway. Fluff and Chip are at their swimming lesson and I’m about to pop a cake in the oven for tea. What could be better than this?

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in fields of green grass
    and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.
He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths,
    as he has promised.
Even if I go through the deepest darkness,
    I will not be afraid, Lord,
    for you are with me.
Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me.

You prepare a banquet for me,
    where all my enemies can see me;
you welcome me as an honoured guest
    and fill my cup to the brim.
I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
    and your house will be my home as long as I live.

Psalm 23 (GNT).

I couldn’t have said it better myself. A perfect psalm for today. Thank you, Jesus.

The Trouble with Sundays…

‘Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work… In six days I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky, the seas, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the Lord, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.’

Exodus 20:8-11 (GNT)

 

The trouble with Sundays is that they follow Saturdays. Yes, I know that’s stating the bleeding obvious, but for me, with my health, it poses a problem. Saturdays are busy busy busy as I enthusiastically combine being a taxi driver, a grandma-wrangler and a child juggler. I say enthusiastically because although Saturdays do take their toll, I love making my family smile. I’m a mother; it’s my job. The only thing is that come Sunday I need to rest. But then I, and other family members, fret about not getting to church :-/

A few weeks back I made the half hour drive to and from church, but afterwards I needed to rest. This then put more of a burden onto Frank… and then I felt guilty. It occurred to me, after talking to God about it, that it’s all a bit silly. After some discussion we have decided to make Sundays into both a day of rest and a day to learn about God, leaving out the worry and guilt over not getting to church.

 

I am reminded of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees: ‘One Sabbath, Jesus was strolling with his disciples through a field of ripe grain. Hungry, the disciples were pulling off the heads of grain and munching on them. Some Pharisees reported them to Jesus: “Your disciples are breaking the Sabbath rules!”

Jesus said, “Really? Didn’t you ever read what David and his companions did when they were hungry, how they entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat? And didn’t you ever read in God’s Law that priests carrying out their Temple duties break Sabbath rules all the time and it’s not held against them?

“There is far more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what this Scripture meant—‘I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual’—you wouldn’t be nitpicking like this. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath; he’s in charge.”

When Jesus left the field, he entered their meeting place. There was a man there with a crippled hand. They said to Jesus, “Is it legal to heal on the Sabbath?” They were baiting him.

He replied, “Is there a person here who, finding one of your lambs fallen into a ravine, wouldn’t, even though it was a Sabbath, pull it out? Surely kindness to people is as legal as kindness to animals!” Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” He held it out and it was healed. The Pharisees walked out furious, sputtering about how they were going to ruin Jesus.’

Matthew 12:1-14 (The Message)

and:

‘The Sabbath was made for the good of human beings; they were not made for the Sabbath.’

Mark 2:27 (GNT)