We are designating the year 2021 as a Year of Sabbath-Rest for our church. What does this mean? Perhaps the best way of clarifying what the year of Sabbath-Rest is, is to say what it is not.

It is not that we are ceasing from all church ministry activities, programmes and going on a hibernation mode for the year 2021 — that is just not possible as we still have essential ministries and church services to run. Rather, the thrust of our Year of Sabbath-Rest is not to do nothing but to cease from constant activity and ministry so that we can find time to rest, reflect and renew ourselves. What is Sabbath-Rest, and why need we rest? Here are two reasons.

To Cease From Constant Activity And Ministry

In the Hebrew scriptures, the Sabbath was originally meant by God as a gift for His people. When the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, there was no Sabbath rest for them. They were building Pharaoh’s cities, and the job needed to be done. So they had to work longer and longer hours, seven days a week, and we can imagine that many of them died under the harsh treatment of their taskmasters as well as from sheer physical exhaustion because they were not given proper or adequate rest.

God has never intended for human beings to work like that. We need rest and sleep, to recalibrate and refresh. We need time to form community and share love. We need time to worship the one who made us. And so, the Israelites were not just given permission to take a day off — they were commanded to do so by God when God gave them the Ten Commandments. One day in seven when they were to refrain from economic activity, so that they could rest and worship God.

In applying this Sabbath-Rest principle to our church context, it will not be possible for us to cease from all activities in our church for an entire year, as I have mentioned that we have essential ministry and work that need to carry on. However, what we are encouraging for our Sabbath-Rest 2021 is to cease from constant labour and activities. Here are two broad guidelines that our church leadership have worked out to achieve our goal of ceasing from constant labour and activities, namely:

  1. All essential and regular ministry and activities of the church will still be carried out as usual.
  2. Meanwhile, there will be no new initiatives, major events, or churchwide programmes for the year 2021.

To Rest, Reflect And Renew

With the above guidelines in place, we believe we should be able to reduce the number of activities and events in our church so that it will allow all of us to rest from constant ministry and labour. The rest that we are envisaging is not, doing nothing. Rather, the purpose of rest is to allow us as a church to spend the year 2021 to reflect on two fronts.

First, on a personal level, we wish to encourage all Wesleyans to reflect on their personal life, namely:

  1. How are you doing in your relationship with God?
  2. How are you doing in your family relationships?
  3. Are there any areas that God wants you to change or work on in terms of the above two questions?
  4. What is God speaking to you about your future in terms of your work as well as your involvement in His kingdom work?

Second, at the church level, we wish to encourage Wesleyans to reflect on the ministry that they are involved in, particularly for the various church ministry committees. The purpose is to spend time reflecting, reviewing, and evaluating our church ministries, with the following questions:

  1. Are there areas in our ministry that God is calling us to change or review?
  2. Are there new areas in our ministry that God is calling us to explore or initiate?
  3. In the light of post-Covid-19, is God directing us to new ways of doing ministry?

We invite all Wesleyans to join us and enter this year of Sabbath-Rest with us and prayerfully, as we rest and reflect, we will be renewed for worship and service in preparation for Directions 2025.

Praise be to God!

Pastors

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Find out more about the Year of Sabbath-Rest 2021.
Read the Wesley Tidings Dec 2020 Issue here.

As we enter into this year of Sabbath-Rest, we hope that every Wesleyan may be able to practise and establish a weekly rhythm of Sabbath-Rest for our lives, so that all of us may find true rest and trust in God from whom all blessings flow.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-Rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

   (Hebrews 4:9-11, emphasis added)

You can experience this rhythm of Sabbath-Rest through the themes of rest, reflect and renew.

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Although we have presented these three themes in a linear manner, we recognise that there will be some overlap in practice. Simply put, we don’t just rest, we pause to do reflection. And as we reflect, we prayerfully make decisions to change our lives and ministries that will lead us to be renewed and refreshed.


What YOSR Taskforce chairperson has to say on Rest, Reflect and Renew.

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For many of us, it has been an exhausting year, both physically and mentally, as we adapted to new work practices and experienced Zoom fatigue from back-to-back online meetings, with little or no mental breaks. Rest has been an elusive luxury many of us could ill afford. Talk about a blistering pace of life! Surely God did not mean for us to be sucked into living our lives at the speed of the Internet! Click on this link for the invitation to Rest in the Lord.

To help us navigate this year of Sabbath-Rest as a church, the Sabbath-Rest 2021 Journal will be available online and in limited print run in a three-book series featuring a theme for each instalment: Journal 1 - REST (Jan-Apr), Journal 2 - REFLECT (May-Aug) and Journal 3 - RENEW (Sep-Dec).

Request for print copy (Limited copies available.)
You can collect Sabbath-Rest 2021 Journals at Church's screening area in the car park.

REST (from Jan 2021)

INTRODUCTION TO REST

Stop – To Cease from Constant Labour 

  • Stop Using Busyness as a Badge of Honour
  • Stopping to Demonstrate that God is in Control
  • Stopping to Acknowledge God’s Redemption in Our Lives

Rest in God

  • Trusting in God’s Abundance
  • Embracing God’s Rhythm

 

SPIRITUAL PRACTICES FOR SABBATH-REST

Discipline of Meditating on Scripture

  • Moving from Information to Transformation
  • Meditation on Scripture — R.O.A.D. Journalling
  • Praying with Scripture

Discipline of Prayer

  • Praying on Our Own — P.R.A.Y.
  • Guided Prayers
  • Praying with Others

Frequently Asked Questions

Drop us an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any questions not found in the FAQs.
A.    SABBATH-REST

Q1.   What is Sabbath-Rest?
A1.   The word ‘Sabbath’ comes from the Hebrew word which means ‘to cease or stop working’. And the purpose for stopping work is to rest in God or to enter into God’s rest.

In Chapter 4 of Hebrews, the writer reiterates that the promise of entering God’s rest still stands (verse 1). After spending the first three chapters telling us that Jesus is greater than the angels as well as Moses, and that Jesus is acknowledged as our Apostle and High Priest, he warns us not to harden our hearts against God, as the Israelites did in the wilderness. Because of their unbelief, God denied that generation access to the promised land, saying, “They shall not enter into My rest” (Hebrews 3:11)

In the same way, the writer warns us not to make the same mistake by rejecting God’s Sabbath-rest in Jesus Christ. “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11, NIV, emphasis added).

(Source: How is Jesus our Sabbath Rest? GotQuestions.org).

Q2.   What is The Year of Sabbath-Rest?
A2.   Wesley Methodist Church has designated 2021 as The Year of Sabbath-Rest (YOSR). The rest that we are envisaging is not stopping church activities altogether and doing nothing. Rather it is to cease from constant work, activity and ministry, so as to allow us – both individually and together as a church -- to spend the year 2021 to rest, reflect and to be renewed.

Q3.   Why do we need a Year of Sabbath-Rest?
A3.   By the end of December 2020, we would have completed our four-year Directions 2020, with the following themes: Growing in Christ (2017), Building Community (2018) and Impacting the World (2019-20). As a church, we have been working for years without practising the Sabbath-Rest.

Therefore at the Local Church Executive Committee (LCEC) Planning Retreat in 2017, Pastor-in-charge Rev Stanley Chua mooted the idea of a Sabbath-Rest. After waiting on the Lord in prayer, our church leadership was eventually led by the Holy Spirit and unanimously decided that once we complete our Directions 2020, we will designate the year 2021 as a year of Sabbath-Rest before we launch any other plans or directions beyond 2021.

For more details, please read Rev Stanley Chua’s Message in the December 2020 issue of Wesley TIDINGS.

Q4.   Why can’t we stop church activities altogether for a year?
A4.   In applying the Sabbath-Rest principle to our Church context, it will not be possible for us to cease from all activities in our Church for an entire year as we have essential ministry and work that need to carry on. For example, worship services have to continue. Also, we still need to share the Gospel News with those who have not heard of Jesus, as well as to care for the poor and the needy in our community. What we are encouraging for our Sabbath-Rest 2021 is to cease from constant labour and activity.

Q5.   How do we cease from constant labour and activity?
A5.   Here are two broad guidelines:
a.  There will be no new initiatives, major events, or Church-wide programs for the year 2021.
b.   But all essential and regular ministry and activities of the Church will still be carried out as usual.