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Rhythms of Rest

A Lent Reflection for Thursday, March 14 by Mary Chase-Ziolek

Lectionary reading for March 14, 2024: Psalm 51:1-12; Isaiah 30:15-18; Hebrews 4:1-13

Selected passage for reflection: Hebrews 4:1-13 NRSV


Hebrews 4:1-13 NRSV

4 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it.  2 For indeed the good news came to us just as to them; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "As in my anger I swore, 'They shall not enter my rest,'" though his works were finished at the foundation of the world. 4 For in one place it speaks about the seventh day as follows, "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works." 5 And again in this place it says, "they shall not enter my rest."

6 Since therefore it remains open for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he sets a certain day - "today" - saying through David much later, in the words already quoted "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later about another day. 9 So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God: 10 for those who enter God's rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.

12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.


What images come to your mind when you think about rest? It can be easy to think of rest as doing nothing. Some may equate resting with being lazy, yet many important things happen physically, mentally and spiritually during rest that are not evident to others, as bodies grow, repair and re-calibrate. Sometimes when you feel that there is no time to rest, that is precisely what is required in order to have the energy and focus to do what needs to be done.

In this passage rest is named as a promise from God.  Indeed rest is so important to our relationship with God that it was included in the Ten Commandments in the requirement to keep the Sabbath.  This has tremendous implications for physical as well as mental and spiritual well-being.  It also may be the commandment that is the least observed.  Sabbath is an invitation to take time and space for connecting with God through the rest and renewal offered by a changed pace. Even as Ecclesiastes 3 talks of “to everything there is a season,” so too in our daily and weekly rhythms there is a time to work and be productive and there is also a time to slow down so we can be renewed and refreshed.

Rest requires slowing down and making space. In our bodies it may be space to breathe more deeply and slow our heart. In our minds rest may allow space to see things differently or solve a problem. In our soul as we slow down through rest we can better hear the still quiet voice of God. We can engage with the wonders of God’s creation and in so doing experience our connection to something greater than ourselves.  If even God needed a rhythm of rest in the midst of creation, how arrogant of humans when we think we can not rest from our work. While sabbath is a commandment, it is also a gift that God gives us – an invitation to slow down, put up our feet up and hang out with our Creator.


  • What are the rhythms of rest and renewal in your life?

  • What enables or limits your ability to take time to rest in the Lord?

  • What are, or might be, meaningful sabbath practices for you?

  • How do the communities to which you belong influence your ability to make time and space for rest?


Creator God, who made each of us with the capacity to both do and to simply be. Help us to appreciate the beauty of slowing down and moving at a pace that keeps body, mind and soul together. May we rest in you trusting that we are enough and that you will provide for our needs as we listen for your still, quiet voice. Amen

About the Author

Mary Chase-Ziolek is a spiritual director and an emeritus professor of health ministries at North Park Theological Seminary with an interest in the connections between faith and health. Some of her life-giving activities include being in nature, gardening, exercise, cooking and spending time with grandchildren. She lives in Chicago with her husband. Mary can be reached at

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