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Sabbath Reflection #8: Everyday Sabbath

Across Plentylife’s Sabbath Month my one-year-old Labrador puppy and I have established a new routine: every morning at 6:30am we go for a walk. We walk for about forty-five minutes to an hour as the sun rises and the birds awaken and stretch their wings. There are several different routes that we choose from; some take us alongside wetlands while others lead us up hills. Some routes provide us with city views and others allow us to peer into shops. As we go, we see people buying early morning coffees or packing their cars for the workday ahead. We meet some who, like us, are carving out time for an early morning walk and there is one house from which we always hear live piano music.

I love mornings spent outdoors, soaking in the sights and sounds as I anticipate the day ahead. And the puppy loves, well, everything really. I know that as the season changes 6:30am will become darker and colder. But I also know the value of our time spent walking. While we are out and about I talk with God about the things on my heart, I admire the intricacies of nature, I wrestle with concepts from my research. And the puppy? She follows the scents of the dogs who have gone before her, snuffles at bugs in the long dew-tipped grass and, on some routes, eats as much duck poo that she can (okay, maybe that last example provided a little too much information). So come autumn and winter, we won’t be giving up our early morning walks because we know their value. The energy, enrichment and fulfilment that they bring us is worth getting up for, even in the dark and cold.

Even though our Sabbath Month is drawing to a close, Sabbath is here for us all: every month, every week, every day. And once we fully understand the value of resting and abiding with our God – when we understand the energy, enrichment and fulfilment that Sabbath brings – we will embrace this precious gift all the more: every month, every week, every day.

So what will a daily or weekly Sabbath time look like for us beyond January, when our ‘compulsive timetables’ push their way back into our agendas? Will it be adding something into our routine that allows us to immerse ourselves in God’s Word? Listening to a podcast while walking, perhaps, or reclaiming our commute with some worship music? Will we savour a cup of tea and chat with the Lord while our children sleep? Will we play music, draw or cook in a mindful way that allows us communion with God? Will we make the time to tackle that project or try that activity we’ve always wanted to do, the one that will provide us with an avenue for generosity and service in Jesus’s name?

As I am typing this the puppy has come and put her head on my lap and is looking at me with her soulful amber eyes. And I can’t help but think that we can learn a lot from her. She wakes up every morning ready for her Best Day Ever. She never lets an opportunity pass her by…to chase her ball, to splash in the flooded wetland waters, to lick the last morsel from her food dish, to love us all without conditions. And when she needs to rest she simply stretches out and sleeps with abandon, doing so because she trusts that we will keep her safe and provide her with all that she needs. How much more can we trust our God to keep us safe and provide us with all that we need as we rest in Him?

The way we engage with rest and Sabbath will be as diverse as we are, but the key thing is that we make time to do it: every month, every week, every day. And that we rest with Christ at the centre – for our good and for His glory.

– Kirrily

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Additional Note
What We Believe

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God and inerrant in the original writings. We believe that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

We believe that the lost and sinful man must be saved, and that man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe in and practice the holy ordinance of water baptism, which signifies the believer’s death, burial, and resurrection into new life with Christ Jesus, and the regular celebration of Holy Communion as commanded by our Lord.

We believe in the present ministry and baptism of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the unsaved; those that are saved into the resurrection of life and those that are unsaved into the resurrection of damnation.

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our History

In recognition of the tremendous growth forecast for the Plenty Valley, Bishop Stephen Hale set up a Taskforce in 2007 to investigate the possibility of establishing a new Anglican community in the area. With representation from local churches and Ivanhoe Grammar School, this Taskforce developed a plan that included the need for a point person to further the work. In response to this, two years ago St John’s Diamond Creek took a great step of faith by employing a staff member to not only serve its own congregation but to focus on establishing a new parish for Mernda. Craig spent his first year getting to know the area, building relationships and discerning what God was already up to in His mission of reaching residents and retailers with His love. Throughout the following year a core team began to form around a vision that arose again and again through prayer, of a red gum taking root in the heart of Mernda and growing while the roots reached out to every corner of the community. This vision of being organic church integrally connected to local community found a means of expression through the “Sheffield Model”, which was first developed by St Thomas’s in Sheffield (UK) nearly 15 years ago.

With a focus on “missional communities” the Sheffield model emphasises the need for Christians to meet with people in their own world rather than expecting them to enter ours. After spending time with the staff of St Thomas’s, Craig and the team began work on adapting the model for our own local context and subsequently launched two playgroups in the second half of 2010. A missional community has also begun forming around crafts and the creative arts which runs a stall at the Laurimar market to raise money for various causes. Three preview services were also held as God continued to draw people into the Plentylife community.

We now launch with a much clearer vision of who God wants us to be, a five-strong leadership team with responsibilities for missional communities, youth, families, and administration, and leadership for three missional communities focused on families, crafts and the creative arts and the outdoor life. And it’s true that we wouldn’t be at this point today if it wasn’t for the generous support of the Diocese, St Johns and other supporting churches! So now together we look forward to what else God might have in store for us according to His grace.