1 2 3 4 5 6 rest...
No… really! From the age of fourteen, I have played guitar and created music. I’ve played in a variety of band configurations, performed solo and recorded several projects.
On the Birkman Method[i] personality assessment, I scored 99 out of 100 possible points in music as an area of personal interest.
I have more than 13,000 songs on my iPod.
I taught music and corporate worship twice as a distance education instructor for Master’s College & Seminary.[ii]
Even when others could lead the worship at church, I have chosen to do most of the leading because I love to. It is fair to say that I enjoy—no, probably obsessed with music!
I have had many philosophical talks with fellow musicians and writers about what makes a great song and a good arrangement. A reoccurring discussion has to do with when not to play. The silence of a voice or instrument in an arrangement assists greatly in the presentation of a song. It seems that some players are more interested in filling the pallet of sound with their part rather than listening to or valuing the part that others play. We call the over-indulgent player a ‘noodler’.
Band-mates and fans alike get weary of the player who never takes a break but fills every available hole in the song with their noise… noodlers.
There are times when the band collectively leaves an empty spot in a song. Musically, not playing or voicing is called a ‘rest’. There is something powerful about a pregnant pause in a song followed by a dramatic return.
As players and singers in God’s band, the arrangement calls for us to not fill life with ourselves, but wait patiently while others sing and play their parts. Each will work together and support the others as they shine.
The arrangement calls for the band to stop abruptly at a precise interval. Silence takes center stage. This is one way I understand the notion of Sabbath.
In Genesis we read about our God working creatively for six days and then… God rests. He calls His children to join in the Creation song. Work hard for six and then stop. No noise, no sweat, no filling of time— just a day to enjoy God’s company and dream of what is to come.
Marva Dawn is a teaching fellow at Regent College[iii] in Vancouver. In her book ‘Keeping The Sabbath Wholly’ she writes:
"To keep the Sabbath means that we embrace a wholly different set of values from those of the world around us. In the first place, we embrace intentionality: we choose carefully how and why we do what we do. We live deliberately in order to embrace a quality of life that is possible only in relationship with the Lord of the Sabbath." [iv]
How is it then that we often devalue the practice of Sabbath in our lives? Why do times of contemplation, worship and rest get bumped for more urgent activities and responsibilities?