This Great Idea was inspired by Krista Tippett’s January 21, 2021, OnBeing interview with Katherine May, author of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times (Penguin).

We all need a rest: at-home parents and students and workers; at-risk youth and at-risk marginalized peoples; activists and protestors; clergy and their families; everyone who’s endured 10+ months of four-fold-pandemics.

Create a Rest Fest Sabbath with your congregation.

Start by reading Katherine May’s Wintering (Penguin) in study/small groups. Teens and tweens might join those conversations, or work through the insomnia workbook for teens (Instant Help). Children might read Dream Animals (Random), Sleep Is for Everyone, and/or the beloved Goodnight Moon (both HarperCollins). An intergenerational study might be supported by reading blog posts from The Nap Ministry – you might even engage Tricia Hersey to speak.

If you’re lucky, you’ve got someone who works for a mattress, pillow, or sleep-related medical research team. One such person spoke in my congregation years ago and it changed my relationship with sleeping profoundly. They know a lot! Invite them to share their wisdom!

After learning about the importance of sleep, perhaps review some biblical references to rest, sabbath, and holiness:

  • Genesis 2:2-3 (where the root word, qadash, literally means “to set apart as holy”;
  • Exodus 16:23 (the first time the term “shabbat” – which translates “to rest from labor”, i.e., “the day of rest” is used in reference to the seventh day); and/or
  • Exodus 20:10 (where we receive the 3rd Commandment to Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy).

Explore how these texts shape our daily and weekly routines and how they speak to us in the midst of a very busy, chaotic reality.

Then, give yourselves permission to enjoy a Rest Fest Sabbath: get together on whatever platform you use – or DON’T!!! – and sleep for the entire time that you would normally devote to a structured worship service. Just rest. No liturgy (“the work of the people”), no singing or sermon, just rest. If you must feel productive, you might include a contemplative practice, but you really can just let this be a time for everyone to commit to doing absolutely nothing but resting.

You would not, in fact, be “skipping” worship, but reshaping relationships both to worship and to rest/sleep – while doing exactly and literally what God did and commands us to do on the Sabbath.

That might be revolutionarily refreshing and renewing for all.