“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Wherever you find yourself at this moment - assuming it’s safe to do so and you’re not driving, cycling, or something similar - stop!

Stop… allow your gaze to soften or even close your eyes… Stop.

Take a breath… and another...

Observe what’s going on inside you… what are you feeling? What is your body doing? Are you hungry? Sore? Tired? Energized? Observe what’s going on inside you…

Observe what’s going on around you… what do you smell? What do you hear? What do you see? Observe what’s going on around you…

Let’s proceed, intentionally, with what we were doing….

We just finished a simple mindfulness practice, one that we frequently use at the Crisis Centre of BC where I work and one we offer in our community-based training when we need to STOP:

take a breath
proceed intentionally

Today we continue our preaching series looking at the Currency of Wellness. 

In a nutshell: in order for us Christ-followers, to be branches and bear fruit, we need time to sabbath.

I am very lucky to be a West End resident and have Stanley Park as my backyard. I frequently walk around and through the park, observing the critters that chirp, run and hop, swim, or glide.

At this time of the year, the park is full of life -- preferably only with locals who can walk or cycle to it as we work to keep each other safe -- yet walking the seawall or trails in the winter, you get the sense that much of it is still … silent … in a deep sleep.

In order for the park to be full of life, to have life abundantly, it must also have periods of rest.

I am sure there are a few arborists and biologies ready to email me after this sermon to remind me that there is much life in the winter, but please stick with me through this image.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

How are we to bear fruit -- to come fully alive like the cherry blossom trees in springtime -- if we don’t have sabbath time?

I have said it before -- being a Christian out there is hard work. There is nothing easy or comfortable about the Gospel. Let’s face it, what we read in 1 John today isn’t easy stuff: “The commandment we have is this: those who love God must love their siblings also” 

If we are to engage in the hard work of being a Christ-follower and bear fruit as Christians, then we must embrace sabbath. We must tune into the cycles of our bodies, of creation, and of our spiritual traditions which offer sabbath. 

Some of us have access to things like ‘vacation’ time or ‘retreat’ time or ‘sabbatical’ time -- these can be useful tools and they assume a level of financial and job security. They are privileges. Many don’t have easy access or any access to these sorts of things. The same can be said for paid sick days. I fundamentally believe they are a right, and a necessity for wellness, and those of us who have them at the moment must acknowledge they are a privilege. 

We must be aware of the privilege of vacation, sick days, sabbaticals and retreat time when we speak of sabbath and wellness in our communities.

In recent weeks, I have been having a number of conversations on personal wellness as it relates to current Public Health Orders. 

On November 20th I got a call from a hotel in White Rock where I had booked three days away desperately needing the privilege of a break. The hotel cancelled my booking because the day before Dr. Bonnie Henry reiterated her plea to British Columbians to stay home and avoid non-essential travel.

The family run, small boutique hotel decided to close on November 20 in response to the plea and Public Health Order that Lower Mainland residents were asked to not leave the region except for essential travel -- a request that has now become enforced law Province-wide.

In a phone call with the hotel owner, where both of us shed some tears, she said: “I must close to help protect others.” This was an act of sacrificial love that focused on the wellness of community before profit or personal gain -- she was showing herself to be a disciple of the Divine (whether she was a faith practitioner or not).

My acceptance and support for Dr. Henry’s plea meant rethinking what sabbath time was going to look like for me and how I might find rest and renewal in a different way.

How might the Currency of Wellness relate to the restrictions we find ourselves under at this time?

I wonder if the restrictions are an opportunity -- a gift -- to sabbath and refocus, reframe what an abundant life actually is as Christ-followers?  


Sometimes, sabbath means saying no to something or taking a step back from something. I’ve recently had to do this when it comes to some of my responsibilities here at the Cathedral … in order for me to say ‘yes’ to certain things -- including my own wellbeing -- I’ve had to say ‘no’ to other things. That’s a sabbath wellness act. 

Sometimes, sabbath may mean taking a whole new trail than the one you currently find yourself on. Choosing another path is a sabbath wellness act.

Sometimes, sabbath may mean adding something -- like time to pray or meditate or walk into your daily routine. This is a sabbath wellness act.

Sometimes, sabbath may mean that you need a moment to STOP -- TAKE A BREATH -- OBSERVE -- PROCEED INTENTIONALLY.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”