And you, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow;
look now, for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing;
oh, rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing!
The words above popped into my mind on Tuesday at my weekly Bible study with pastors from our Northern Conference. If you happen to be a real connoisseur of Christmas hymns, you might recognize these words as the third verse of It Came upon the Midnight Clear by Edmund H. Sears. While it is sort of odd to be thinking of a Christmas hymn as summer begins, Sears’s words struck me as the text study group discussed the readings for June 3--Bible texts that have a lot to do with the concept of sabbath, which is the Third Commandment as described in Deuteronomy. 5:12-16:
Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work--you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
This Commandment reminds us of God’s love for us, as God calls us to take time for holy rest and renewal through worship, Bible study, and recreation. God has given us a weekly sabbath (Saturday in the time of the Ten Commandments, but later it became Sunday for Christians because that is the day that Jesus rose from the dead) as a gift to help us recharge and be healthy to serve God.
Our worship life this month has a lot to help us recharge. First, we have the return of Favorite Hymns Summer on June 3, when I will use the list of favorite hymns that people submitted last year to plan the songs you love for worship services throughout the summer (I am also adding three of my own favorites this year--Abide with Me, The God of Abraham Praise, and the aforementioned It Came upon the Midnight Clear). If you did not submit any hymns last year, contact the office with up to three suggestions, and I will do my best to include them. Later in the month, on June 24, we rejoice at the baptisms of cousins Fletcher Dean Wright and Quinton Walsh, young sons of Maggie (Tonkin) Wright and Holly (Tonkin) Walsh and grandsons of Joe and Robin Tonkin! We will also have a special send-off that day for our Youth Group as they depart for the ELCA Youth Gathering (June 26 to July 3).
If the “glad and golden hours” of summer have you hitting the road, I encourage you to continue to take sabbath time for God by checking out a church where you travel and/or watching Trinity’s service through our website on www.mytrinitylutheran.org/watch. I myself look forward to doing the latter during my vacation from the afternoon of June 10 through June 23. Karen Krieger will lead worship on June 17, though I will be with you in spirit as I leave you with a new hymn to sing that day in honor of Father’s Day (to the tune of my favorite hymn, Abide with Me).
Pastor Micah Garnett has been our Pastor since July 2016. He grew up in York, PA and graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. He enjoys worship, working with social services in Fulton County, writing hymns, and cycling.