Sunday, April 22, 2001

poem: Sojourner of the Shadows

Sojourner of the Shadows
I'm a sojourner in the Valley of Baca,
The trees close in, I lose my Guide.
The darkness falls, and wolves, they threaten.
You promised to stay at my side.

But You forsook me and You left me,
And anger wells up within.
So I wanted to trust You and make this work,
But I can't, so I do this worst sin.

I loved You but I've lost you,
You, Creator of earth and sky.
The pain falls soft upon my shoulders,
And I only want to die.

But You hate me so I live on,
In a world bereft of Light.
Betrayed, I stand in the shadows,
And fear the approaching night.

Tuesday, April 03, 2001

Letter to the Editor

A letter to the editor of the Sabbath Recorder, the official magazine for my denomination. They did not publish it.

Dear Editor,

This letter has been a long time in coming. This issue has been niggling at my mind for a while, and I just can’t keep silent any longer. People may disagree with me—I may even be way off—but I have to go out on a limb and speak up.

I hear a lot of talk about the Sabbath in this magazine and at my church. This is not a bad thing. We need to wrestle with and define how this issue effects us individually and as a Sabbath keeping community. What I see is some double-mindedness when it comes to how the Sabbath is kept. I can’t speak for how widespread a problem this may be, but I suspect the problem may go beyond my church.
People go out to eat between the Sabbath hours, every week. People also shop for the evening meal Sabbath afternoon. This specifically violates the commandment to give your slaves and servants rest that day, along with yourself. After all, aren’t restaurant workers who serve us acting in the capacity of our servants? Aren’t grocery store checkers the same? Isn’t that what God gave us Friday for—to prepare for the Sabbath?

I understand the problems people encounter that keep us from keeping the Sabbath wholly holy. I understand that we have children, appointments, second jobs, and other things that eat away at the edges of the Sabbath and keep us busy long after dark Friday evening, with no time to prepare meals and so forth for the following day. But how can we expect God to bless us if we are hypocrites, saying one thing about the holiness of the Sabbath, and doing another?

He can’t. He won’t. I’ve asked myself over and over since joining this church what makes our denomination so small, and the Adventists so large. And I’ve come to this conclusion: one reason they are blessed with growth when we are not is because what they say about the Sabbath, they do.

Not only that, but they set a good example for their children. What kind of an example are we setting? I had one young adult, raised in the church, tell me that while she believed in the Sabbath concept, she wasn’t convinced that Saturday was the day. In other words, why couldn’t any day suffice? Another lady in my church had our double standard thrown back in her face by one of her little kids. When told she couldn’t go to the mall on Saturday, the child responded that we eat out, so what’s the difference? Folks, we are going to lose our children to the world!

I write this in all sincerity, as one struggling sinner to another. I love this church, and I believe in what we teach. But I fear that our lack of growth may be due, in part, to two factors totally within our control: One, that we are not serious in our Sabbath keeping practices. This turns prospective new members off, leading them to other churches that practice what they preach. Two, we may be losing our own young people, our most precious asset. It could all be turned around with a little extra planning the rest of the week so that our Sabbaths can truly be Sabbaths.
We need to educate ourselves and our children on this issue, and call ourselves back to holiness. Then God will bless us and we will grow.

In Christ,
Victoria Shephard