It is the end of the harvest season, at least for me here in my Seattle garden. This weekend we will probably pick the last of our green tomatoes and our winter squash. We have eaten tomato salads or BLTs almost daily, dried, canned and frozen and shared liberally with friends and neighbours. This afternoon I will make my last apple cake for the season and start to ready the garden for a season of winter rest. Hopefully I too will get a winter rest. In fact I am realizing that I need to make sure that it happens. At the moment I am longing for that rest.
It has been a very busy season of harvest – in the garden, in my personal life and in our ministry. As I sat here thinking about that this morning I was reminded of Brueggemann’s words in talking about the good fruit of the Spirt which he equates with God’s command in Genesis to be fruitful, an association I have never made before. The fruitfulness God asks of us is the fruitfulness that leads to the in breaking of God’s eternal, peaceable kingdom in which all creatures will find their true purpose and all humans will find their wholeness.
Entry into God’s new community, Bruggemann believes, requires only one observance – the practice of Sabbath. I am profoundly impacted by his radical statement that for the children of Israel there is only one condition for entry into the community – the practice of Sabbath:
That is because Sabbath represents a radical disengagement from the producer-consumer rat race of the empire. The community welcomes members of any race or nation, any gender or social condition, so long as that person is defined by justice, mercy and compassion and not competition, achievement, production or acquisition. There is no mention of purity, only work stoppage with a neighbourly pause for humanness. (54)
He contends that at the heart of our fruitfulness as members of God’s community is our ability to embrace and practice Sabbath.
It was at the beginning that God blessed the human creatures and said to them, “Be fruitful”. The God who gave the blessing and invited fruitfulness is the Lord of the Sabbath. It requires Sabbath to bear the fruits of God’s kingdom. Those who refuse Sabbath produce only sour grapes, the grapes of wrath and violence and envy and, finally, death. Sabbath is a refusal of the grapes of wrath, en embrace of good fruits of life and joy, of praise and shalom. (Sabbath as Resistance 57).
This is very radical thinking, but combined with N.T. Wright’s understanding that Jesus came to fulfill the Sabbath and bring into being God’s peaceable kingdom of rest and wholeness, it makes sense. Lots to mull over here. I would love to know what you think.