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October 5th, 2023

Dear Hyde Park Family,

How noisy is your life?

 Bernie Krause is a noted “soundscape artist,” producing albums of sounds found in nature. He has said that in 1968, in order to get one hour of natural sound – no cars, planes, or machines of any kind – it took about 15 hours of recording time. Today, to get that same hour of natural sound, it requires over 2,000 hours of recording time! We are bombarded by the sounds of a noisy world, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to escape it.

But this is nothing compared to the noise within us. If it were possible to make a soundscape recording of your mind and heart, how long would it take to record an hour of mental and emotional quiet? Probably even longer than 2,000 hours, right? We hear the constant drone of deadlines, pressures, and to-do lists, along with the heavy pulsing of anxieties, sadness, and fear.

 Over and against this backdrop of noise, the scriptures call us to observe a command rooted in the earliest days of creation:

 “So then, a Sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9-10)

 Wayne Muller, in his classic book: Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest and Delight, offers this poignant reminder to live a life shaped by intentional spiritual rest:

 “Like a path through the forest, Sabbath creates a marker for ourselves so, if we are lost, we can find our way back to our center. ‘Remember the Sabbath’ means ‘Remember that everything you have received is a blessing. Remember to delight in your life, in the fruits of your labor. Remember to stop and offer thanks for the wonder of it.’ Remember, as if we would forget. Indeed, the assumption is that we will forget. And history has proven that, given enough time, we will.”

 What might it mean for you to recapture this ancient practice of renewal and re-creation?

  • It could mean having a silent retreat, for a day or a weekend. No cell phones, no laptops, and no talking.
  • It could mean going without television or internet for a period of time, using the time instead in the quiet of one’s home or the outdoors.
  • It could mean simply carving out a fixed amount of time each day – 30 minutes, or an hour or more – to intentionally retreat, listen for God, and be quiet.

One of the foremost authorities on spiritual disciplines, Richard Foster, suggests that homeowners actually build into their home plans a specific room for solitude. Just like there are designated rooms for eating, sleeping, and entertaining, he suggests creating a space that offers a place of uninterrupted silence. In lieu of a whole room, the family may have a designated chair or sofa where the person is not to be interrupted.

 Living Sabbath requires intentionality, and it need not be exclusively defined by an hour at church on Sunday morning. Rest, renewal, and re-connection with God ought to happen regularly, without fail.

 Happy Sabbath keeping,

The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist

We continue our worship series “Good and Faithful: Life Done Well” with an exploration of love, one of the five core qualities of Christian ethical and moral character. We will also be integrating a story and song from live musical theater. To watch all the prior services in this series, click here. For additional resources for each of the themes of these series, including video clips of the songs, click here.