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A Liturgy for Entering Sabbath Rest

By March 13, 2023 12 Comments

Dear Reader,
This past January I was gifted with a three week mini-sabbatical, made possible by a generous clergy revitalization grant from the RCA and the Lilly Foundation. As I prepared for this intentional time of rest and renewal, I wrote
A Liturgy for Entering Sabbath Rest that I prayed daily on my sabbatical. I continue to pray it every Sunday evening when I begin my 24 hour sabbath. It has become a part of my regular ritual that helps me “make every effort to enter that rest” God offers us in Christ by the Spirit (Heb. 4:11).

It is my joy to share this with you here to be used personally and/or in community. May it be of assistance to you in a hurried and restless culture, as you seek to rest your own heart in our triune God of grace and peace.

Vincent van Gogh, Noon – Rest from Work (after Millet) (1890). Oil on canvas. Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Entering Sabbath Rest

By Brian Keepers

God of Rest,
in the beginning,
after You created all things
by Wind and Word,
and it delighted Your heart
and You called it “good,”
You rested.

You sat down
on Your throne,
O Sovereign One,
watchful and steady,
at one with Your creation,
ruling over all things
with peace, wholeness
and joy.

When You assumed
flesh and blood
in the person of Your Son,
our Brother,
our Savior and Lord,
You rested.

Early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
before the sun’s gold rim
would awaken the day,
You rose early to be alone,
to enjoy intimacy with the Father
and be reminded of Your Name,
And of Your mission,
“To do the work of
the One who sent Me.”

“The Sabbath is for humans,
not humans for the Sabbath,”
You said to the sneers
of religious leaders who
claimed to be guardians of the rules,
gatekeepers of what’s “right,”
but who could not rest.

“The Sabbath is for you,”
our Savior and Lord
says tenderly to you now.
“My beloved Child,
this is for you.

A gift.

Like a fresh evening breeze
whispering in the garden.

Like the gurgling water of a stream,
singing over you your baptism.

Like the crackle and sputter of a fire,
Pentecost tongues above you and in you.

Like a window into eternity,
a future rest and delight coming
to meet you in the present.

Here and now.
Receive it.
Enter into it.
Let it enter into you.

Leave behind all
that forbids you to enter.
Let go of all
that holds you back.
Surrender every burden
you carry.

For He holds all things together,
and He will heal all that is fractured.
This is not yours to do.

Yours is to rest.

And remember
who you are, and
whose you are, and
why you are.

And in the beauty,
goodness, and
truth of it all,
may you be renewed.

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy one of Israel says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength….” (Isaiah 30:15)

Brian Keepers

Brian Keepers is the lead pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa.


  • John Kleinheksel says:

    This prayer helps me enter into God’s rest and my/our renewal. Thank you, dear friend.

  • George Hunsberger says:

    Thank you, Brian, for sharing this gift.

  • Harlan Davison says:

    There is no rest like the rest of knowing you are one in Christ. Thanks Brian for words well spoken.

  • Emily R. Brink says:

    I so needed this today, uncanny timing. Thank you! This needs to be repeated in my life; it’s “keeper!”

  • Cornelis Kors says:

    Thank you Brian!

  • Barbara Holman says:

    This is beautiful, and so beautifully stated. Thank you for writing it, and thank you for sharing it.

  • Mike Chase says:

    These articles are such a great resource and mid week help before the Sabbath.

  • Paulette Chaponniere says:

    Thanks, Brian. I will add this reflection to my preparations for Sabbath. Miss you in Holland at FRC🤗!

  • Todd Jenkins says:

    I really appreciate the Sabbath Liturgy. Our church’s Women’s monthly Bible study group is studying Sabbath this school year (Horizons Bible Study: Celebrating Sabbath, by Carol M. Bechtel). I adapted your liturgy (including the van Gogh painting) into a responsive litany that we used as our opening for this month’s lesson: Sabbath and Self-Care.

  • Loic Lazaro says:

    Hi Brian,
    You are right. We should/most observe the Sabbath has God has asked us since Genesis. Is the fourth commandment given by God from the ten commandments. Jesus has also observed the Sabbath and his apostles after Jesus ressurrection. However, remember the true Sabbath is Saturday and not Sunday or any other day. In the bible you will not find a single verse mentioning that Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday. Saturday is the seventh day and as you must know it was the Catholic church who change it. Make a deeper study about the Sabath and I am sure you will find the truth.

  • Daniel Carlson says:

    Very grateful, Brian, for your crafting and sharing this lovely, wise, and lyrical invitation to rest in the Lord. (I exhumed it from my inbox on just the right day: the first day of a long delayed sabbatical : -)

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