An Invitation to Begin Sabbath as we Begin a New Year

by | Dec 28, 2016 | Rhythms of Rest, Sabbath

Sing a little song of trust,
O my heart!
Sing it just because you must,
As leaves start;
As flowers push their way through dust;
Sing, my heart, because you must.
Wait not for eager throng—
Bird on bird;
It’s the solitary song
That is heard.
Every voice at dawn will start,
Be a nightingale, my heart!

Streams in the Desert, December 28

The birds are singing again.

A neighbor and I talk through slats in the wooden fence separating our terrace houses. She’s unstringing a tangle of fluorescent green lights, unsure if the bulbs decorating the head of a small tree are more garish than festive, telling me what I already know.

H walks outside in bare feet, making a dash on cold concrete to the garage when he hears her name each bird species witnessed on branches growing in our small walled gardens.

“Yes, we’re hearing them sing as we wake up in the morning,” he interjects.

She’s not listening. Her head is bent over, eyes focused on a knot in the cord, and her mind, on her father-in-law who just arrived from Canada, the package delivered to our house while they were out. Apologizing for the noise that comes from her kids through the adjoining walls of our houses.

The birds vanish for more than a year because of the noise. Construction workers with power tools on scaffolding towers keep chirping choirs from alighting on the ivy and camellias.

While we are quick to make things new, better, brighter, more efficient and less mundane, the birds know what we are slow to notice.

We can’t hear the way life sings with purpose and beauty when busyness is the repetitive song we are choosing.

The last week of Advent can be a deadline you fear you won’t meet, a goal you doubt you will achieve, an atmosphere completely within your control to create only to crash on December 25.

And New Year’s Day provides a reprieve; the hope of redemption from hurry, hustle and moving harried from one blessed task into a rushing stream of endless activity. From the seduction of doing more for achieving happiness to surrendering to Sabbath for hearing God sing over you again.

Let’s forego resolutions and be resolute instead.

Begin Sabbath as you begin a New Year.

Make rest realistic in 2017 and hear your days sing with purpose and meaning again.

For a season, we wait for Christ to come to us and since the beginning, Christ waits for us to come to him in Sabbath.

There is lingering now, a space of days between Christmas and the New Year asking, “How will you choose to live?” And God doesn’t beg, He waits.

When silent, sitting in the stillness instead of moving at a frenetic pace, you notice the longing ache for the wonder of Christmas to remain. Dread removing fairy lights and the tree from your house because of the warmth of belonging they bring. Fear that the peace you experience now will eventually fade.

And Jesus stands at the door, knocks, whispers Sabbath, and waits. Can you hear the hope?

Let’s slow down and savor the moments continually, every week, instead of approaching life as an emergency that needs to be fixed, solved, and bandaged.

I wrap arms around my waist, holding in warmth while standing in the cold at the fence. Listen to my neighbor say, “It’s the construction that kept the birds away. And the cat that lives a few doors down has become an indoor pet bringing the birds back into the garden again.”

In January, let’s remove what threatens us from flourishing and begin cultivating rhythms of rest. Sometimes it takes a community of empathetic friends to help you find a pathway through the busyness of life back to a place of peace again.

Join the Sabbath Society for weekly encouragement that quietly slips into your inbox.

Download this printable January calendar and begin making rest realistic in the New Year. Every day, a reminder of God’s great gift available to you in Sabbath from the Beginnings chapter in Rhythms of Rest. Weekly whitespaces to exhale, slow down, and savor instead of auto-piloting on survival mode.

Read Rhythms of Rest while it’s at the lowest price since the release. Click here to purchase and join me throughout the year for book clubs and special events.

Consider me your Sabbath coach, reminding you every Friday morning in your inbox: Persevere in finding rest! And then join the community through our hashtags — #RhythmsofRest and #SabbathSociety.

Let’s make 2017 the year we sing from the treetops with purpose and alight among the weary carrying songs of hope.

“In the same way that beginning a New Year with a clean slate and fresh hope motivates us toward change, finding rhythms of rest in a busy world makes life radically different. You may even like yourself more. But first you must choose to begin.” From Rhythms of Rest


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  1. Connie Burkett

    I am Looking forward to journey to find rest and to hear His voice.

    • shelly

      Glad to have you along Connie! It’s going to be an amazing journey.

  2. Natalie Ogbourne

    Love this, Shelly: “Let’s forego resolutions and be resolute instead.” Like the birds who filled that return of the empty space with their song, putting of and putting on go together. What lovely and helpful imagery this morning.

    • shelly

      And that photo you emailed me?! So appropriate and providential. Thanks for being here Natalie.

  3. Dea

    “Once you open the gift of Sabbath, you will never go back to life as usual.” So true. Thank you for encouraging us to take the gift of grace which is the Sabbath rest of God. I truly cannot imagine living another way. Love the calendar. (BTW, I have those PEACE stocking hangers–surprise, surprise. Ha!)

    • shelly

      I can’t imagine life another way either Dea. And of course you have the same stocking hangers, we are kindred indeed. Sending lots of love your way.

  4. Cathy

    I love this calendar. Great way to start the New Year! Thank you!

    • shelly

      Glad you love it Cathy! Thinking of you and hoping your Christmas has been sweet.

  5. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Shelly, as always, I’m singing Sabbath with you, and always a member of your choir! My friendship with you brings such joy. You know me, and that singing has always been an important part of my life since I was a child. And it always will be. I can’t stop singing, and do it daily (literally). Thanks for the reminder of what I’ve known intuitively. It’s a way to Sabbath. And I love Streams in the Desert. Thanks for sharing that quote. Also, just today, in my daily bible reading, I read this: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Ps. 149:1). And how serendipitous that you should suggest that we sing in our New Year. … a new song for the New Year, and all unto the Lord! Yes! Recently, I penned what I teach journaling classes is a “hidden treasure” poem (a poem “found” within the lines of another poet’s poem. I “found” my poem inside Dylan Thomas’s “Fern Hill” and I called mine “Sabbath Song: The Means of Grace,” coincidental to what you are expressing here. Some of my excerpted lines read, “I sing my chains away in the mercy of His means./ God’s grace sings morning songs: Happy clouds float on fields of praise in this spinning place./ Sabbath rings slow and sings golden.” Oh, how I thank you, dearest Shelly, for this reminder to keep Sabbath and sing our songs in this New Year. I know from experience, when one time I stopped singing, I started dying. And I think continuous overwork is like that. When we don’t take time to rest, we die, too. I wish you a joyous year of singing and resting in Him!!

    • Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

      Lynn, have you ever heard Deanna Durbin’s “Can’t help singing?” You make me think of that beauty today!

  6. Kristin Schell

    I just downloaded my Sabbath calendar. Thank you sweet friend. Looking forward to sabbathing with you again this year. . . .

  7. Lisa Curtis

    I have practiced resting on the Sabbath for many years. But in a physical way not spiritual. My soul is anything but restful right now and I am hoping this connection will guide me to a new spiritual Sabbath that very soon will also bring me peace. I am also memorizing scripture alongside many others with Beth Moore and my first scripture (starting January 1) is going to be Matthew 11:30. It seems to have been put before me almost daily the entire month of December, which, in fact, was one of the most burdened months I have had in a long time. Here is to a new year and a new beginning to rhythms of rest. Thanking you in advance for the guidance and direction to be closer to our Lord and a restful soul.

  8. Nancy Ruegg

    Thank you, Shelly, for your gentle prodding to let go of the to-do list even for ten minutes, and “leave something undone as an act of trust.” Bless you, my friend, for leading the way along God’s quiet waters where our souls can be restored.

  9. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    Shelly, I love this post and especially your last words – “Let’s make 2017 the year we sing from the treetops with purpose and alight among the weary carrying songs of hope. ” So similar to something strongly on my heart for a post to write soon too… I also loved the photo that shows the door behind the flowers because that latch is exactly like the one in my drawing winging your way. And that lets me know that original photo really was likely from UK… 🙂 Blessings of hope and new joy to your new year!

  10. Kaethe Pittman

    Thank you for the reminders and the lovely printable, Shelley! My mother gifted me with a hard copy of Rythms of Rest this Christmas (I’d used a Kindle version for the launch party.), and I am looking forward to re-reading it and doing book club activities with it this year.

  11. Tricia

    I recent;y read “Rhythms of Rest” actually I devour it. I need rest in my mind, body and spirit. My baby brother(48) died unexpectantly on Nov 3, he was buried Nov 5 on the 2 year anniversary of our mom’s passing. God is using you among others to speak to me and I so appreciate. Still feeling my way around trying to figure out exactlt how the community of the Sabbath Society works. I am signed up for the emails.

  12. Jenni Ho-Huan

    THank you for such a beautiful printable. May I ask permission to share it with others who are not in the S Soc? Of course, i will direct them to the Soc!
    I turn 50 today and I look forward to deeper and more wondrous transformations as I grow in the rhythms of Grace-led rest. So thankful I found this!
    Have a NEW year everyone.

  13. Tanya Marlow

    love this calendar! So much thought in it.

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