The Sabbath – Disengagement From the Present World

Sabbath : Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of RestThe Sabbath is a disengagement of the community from the present world. It is difficult to live ones life, feed ones family, and even work in a job, without
accommodating the structure. Our very participation in the present world promotes its continued existence which includes all of its attendent problems. Our working for the company that refuses to pay a livable wage to its poorest workers helps that company to survive. Such accommodation in a sense promotes the present evil world. We support the system as we live in the system. We cannot really live in this system and totally separate.

The Sabbath command makes provision for this by stating “six days you labor, but the Seventh-day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.” If I may paraphrase, six days you go ahead and live in the system, but on the Seventh-day you radically break from it by not working (Exodus 20:10) and not buying and selling (Neh 13:14).

This constitutes an economic boycott that reminds the Sabbath keeper (and those who are in relationship with her) that the present world is not all there is. It reminds the Sabbath keeper
that the vision of the Sabbath with its basic idea that all are equal and all are to take part and be blessed by it will ultimately overcome the present world as the Kingdom of God is fully made evident. The Sabbath reminds us that while we are living in the system, this system is not God’s ideal or God’s will. The Sabbath reminds us that this present order is not what God intends. The Sabbath reminds us that the ultimately our responsibilities are to God and not to the system that oppresses us and others. that oppressive system that we have rightfully named Babylon.

The Sabbath pushes us to disengage from the world at least one day a week. The Sabbath-keeping church must show the weakness of the present order by disengaging from it. This will demonstrate to the world that this is not all there is. Our disengagement from the present order reminds us all that God’s kingdom will overtake and overcome eventually. This disengagement includes total separation from the present world on that one day as well as much separation as possible on other days.

This disengagement is not a passivity in the world. We would fight those things that are not in line with the vision of the Sabbath, but the disengagement helps us to find the vision and gain strength to fight anything that is not in line with the vision the Sabbath gives us.

The Sabbath – Celebration of Community

“The Sabbath is about individual rest, the church has turned it into a day of corporate worship.” So says many I have come in contact with. Such an individualistic understanding of the Sabbath divorces the Sabbath Keeper from one of the greatest blessings of the Sabbath which is a celebration of community. In fact Leviticus 23:3 reminds us that a holy convocation or meeting was required of the community in the Hebrew Bible. It was to have elements that would be kept in community. In addition, the Sabbath was not just to benefit the Sabbath-Keeper. Exodus 20:10 reminds us that all who are in contact with the Sabbath keeper would benefit from the rest of the Sabbath Keeper by not doing work that would Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feastingnormally be done for the Sabbath Keeper. Even the animals were to be blessed by the Sabbath. We are told in Exodus 23:9-10 that even the land was to keep a “Sabbath-year” this would expand the blessing of the Sabbath to include even the creation itself. Thus the Sabbath is communal and affects not just the Sabbath-keeper, but also all those who are involved with the Sabbath keeper. If the church will be a Sabbath-keeping church it must be a benefit to all who are in community with it.

A Sabbath-keeping church must see itself as one that makes sure that its Sabbath keeping is not an individual endeavor. It is one that must affect others. It is one that even those who are not Sabbath keepers must be blessed by. It is one that all those who are in relationship with us are affected by. The Sabbath-keeping church must throw away any totally individualistic gospel that ignores the communal aspects of that gospel because the very idea of Sabbath is communal.

Preaching with Power – Walter Pearson

Preaching With Power
Walter Pearson followed C. D. Brooks as the speaker/director of Breath of Life ministries. Elder Pearson has been a pastor and an administrator in the Adventist church including a stint as associate secretary of the Ellen White Estate.

Understanding of Preaching

Elder Pearson referred to the call to preach as a call to “positively invluence people.” This statement demonstrates Elder Pearson’s belief in the power of preaching. Preaching, according to Pastor Pearson’s culture and philosphy, is the center of ministry. This refers to the fact that in the Black church often-times the whole of ones ministry is evaluated by the quality of ones pulpit work. Pastor Pearson believes that Jesus speaks through the preaching event to humanity. Pastor Pearson states, “I believe that the revelation of divine power through the spoken Word is the recurring miracle which energizes and sustains the church.” And to answer the question of his understanding of preaching in summary form, he states that “A sermon is God communicating a divine message to humanity, through humanity, by a process which He alone makes effective.”

Method of Sermon Preparation

Pastor Pearson decides what to preach from the needs of the people, events, books, and situations. He notes that God ultimately gives the sermon, but God uses many of these avenues to get the message to us as preachers.

Elder Pearson has a personal study regiment that is not necessarily for sermon creation, but it does inform his sermon creation process. Like Barry Black, Pearson notes the importance of personal devotion which sometimes informs his preaching.

Pearson reads the Bible for sermon preparation by actively listening and letting the Word speak. When he does not understand the passage, he consults resources. Interestingly enough he pushes himself by reading “passages that are not naturally interesting” to try to understand why they are written. This pushes him to expand his mind. He even notes that sometimes he reads dull, dense and poorly written books and materials to stretch his mind as well.

Pearson attempts to take the texts and put them in an unusual frame of reference. He quotes the Adventist preacher Samuele Myers who stated that even a familiar room becomes different when you enter it through a different door. Another approach that Pearson suggests is to invert the sequence of events or look at a different character in the story to provide freshness to the story.

While any individual sermon may take more or less time, Pastor Pearson stated that it takes roughly 16 hours to put a sermon together.

Understanding of Adventist Preaching

Pearson stated that the Adventist preaching tradition is one that emphasizes a holistic message. Thus Adventist preaching must affect the entire person. He notes that both the Adventist and the Black preaching traditions are “unambiguously Biblical.” While both are Biblical, Pearson notes that the Adventist preacher can probably be a little more prophetic in its preaching by pointing out the injustices in this society.

Understanding of Black preaching

Pearson is quick to note that Black preaching is not a monolith. Black preaching is manifested in different ways according to denomination and even according to individual churches. However he does note that Black preaching is Prophetic in taking on the injustices of today. In addition, Black preaching engages The Homiletical Plot: The Sermon As Narrative Art Form in a “a kind of in-your-face preaching” that speaks truth on issues that are neglected by others.

Elder Pearson is known for his story telling ability. I thought it was interesting that he spoke about looking at the Bible story from a slightly different angle. Such an approach can be very helpful to the preacher. Eugene Lowery speaks of “Upsetting the Equilibrium” in The Homiletical Plot. Here we look at the story from a slightly different vantage point to allow the sermon to be fully heard. A preacher can provide freshness to stories that have been heard many times by following this approach that Pearson and Lowry suggest.