Song for the SabbathHilary Lim
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​​Song: Song for the Sabbath

written by Hilary Lim

performed by Calvin Gan

VERSE 1
Can we lay our burdens down
Lose our striving to be found
By the One who bears our load

Can we let our plans fall through
Walk another mile or two
With a stranger on the road


PRE-CHORUS 1
Our Father feeds the sparrows
The hours and times are His


CHORUS 1
We can leave the land to rest
For He gives what we need today
We can live with open hands    

To bless the ones who come our way
Come our way


VERSE 2
Can we give until it hurts
Love our neighbour in the dirt
Of the brokenness we share

Can we turn the other cheek
Be gentle with the weak
Live more humbly than we dare


PRE-CHORUS 2
We're seeds that live by dying
Our Father makes us grow


CHORUS 2
We can leave the land to rest
For He gives what we need today
We can live with open hands
To bless the ones who come our way
Come our way
 

Songwriter's Reflections

This song was written as Singapore was going into the circuit breaker due to COVID-19, and as there was increasing attention on the needs and experiences of vulnerable groups. At the time, I was trying to discern how God was moving in that unique season, with economic and church activities coming to a halt, and the needs of vulnerable groups coming to light.

Both seemed to come together in the concept of the Sabbath.

On one hand, with the circuit breaker, many of us could no longer work in our fields, whether it was work or ministry that slowed. In a sense, we were forced to let our “lands” rest for a season. While there was discomfort, I wondered if it was a grace that we could receive from our Father, while being assured that He provides even when we don’t feel productive.

At the same time, the Sabbath wasn’t about sitting back and doing nothing. It involved spending ourselves to serve those around us, and being part of restoring the hungry, poor, oppressed. It is a challenge still relevant for our times, especially as needs are brought to light - will we choose to give of ourselves, our resources, our time, to serve the vulnerable among us?

Scripture

Leviticus 25:1-7; Deuteronomy 15; Isaiah 58:6-14; Matthew 5:38-42

 

"1 The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 2 'Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. 3 For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard...'"

Leviticus 25:1-4 (ESV)

About the Songwriter
 

Hilary is a child of God, who desires to see the wonders of God at work in the plain, the everyday and the ordinary. She believes that there has to be a way where the rhythms of work, life and rest come together to allow individuals and communities to flourish. These themes find their way into her songs, music, and conversations with people.

Hilary Lim headshot.jpeg

 

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Visual: Migratory Shorebirds

Lesser Sand-plover and Curlew Sandpiper at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

 

by Peter Harris (A Rocha)


Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is an important wintering and stopover site for migratory shorebirds travelling along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Every year thousands make the perilous journey and arrive at the Reserve in August through September from breeding grounds in Russia and China—some even crossing the Himalayas—to rest and refuel on our shores. Some will spend the northern winter here, while others fly onward to as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

About Peter Harris

After working as an English teacher and then an Anglican clergyman, Peter and his wife Miranda moved to Portugal in 1983 to establish and run A Rocha’s first field study centre and bird observatory. In the years that followed, they oversaw the establishment of two other centres in France and travelled extensively to resource the growing movement of Christians active in nature conservation. In 2010, Peter and Miranda moved back to be based in the UK and continued their work of sharing A Rocha’s Christian approach to conservation with many across a wide range of backgrounds around the world. Peter has recently retired but following the accident in October 2019 that took Miranda’s life – as well as A Rocha International’s Executive Director, Chris Naylor, and his wife Susanna, he continues to work with A Rocha in a voluntary capacity. At the moment, this is focused on raising support for the national teams most affected by COVID-19, and some online and filmed speaking and teaching. He is also engaged with North Star Transition that is working to accelerate systemic change in the face of the biodiversity and climate crises.

About A Rocha

A Rocha is a Christian organization engaging communities in nature conservation. Underlying all we do is our biblical faith in the living God, who made the world, loves it and entrusts it to the care of human society.

A Rocha responds to the global crisis of biodiversity loss by carrying out community-based conservation projects. Through residential field study centres, site-based projects and wider advocacy, A Rocha: carries out ecological monitoring and research in areas of high value for wildlife; spearheads practical measures for conserving and restoring habitats and their fauna and flora; encourages appreciation of nature and participation in its conservation, through environmental education and community outreach; provides a forum for understanding the relevance of the Christian faith to environmental issues. Our first initiative was a field study centre in Portugal, and so our name is Portuguese and means ‘The Rock’.  

Lesser Sand-plover and Curlew Sandpiper-

 

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Visual: Play

 

by HAGAR Singapore

HAGAR is an international NGO and a registered charity in Singapore committed to the recovery and economic empowerment of women and children who have survived the trauma of human trafficking, slavery and abuse. We do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to restore a broken life. Since 1994, HAGAR has supported more than 40,000 women and children survivors from Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

In Singapore, HAGAR helps trafficking survivors and exploited foreign domestic workers on their recovery journey, empowering them to regain dignity, build resilience and skills to start a whole new life. Beyond supporting survivors, HAGAR also works to strengthen existing prevention efforts through collaborative partnerships with the government, civil society and the private sector to effectively combat human trafficking and exploitation issues locally and globally.

 

Hagar - Song for the Sabbath.jpg

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Devotional: Entering God's Rest

By Lee Huiwen & Kenneth Lau (Studio Asobi)

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

 

Psalm 127:1-2 (ESV)

 

When my husband and I left our corporate jobs to start a home pottery studio, it felt like we had exchanged constant busyness for an abundance of time. Our schedules were no longer dictated by an employment contract, and we no longer spent hours in daily commutes. We even committed to observe a full day of Sabbath rest each week.

 

Before long, however, we discovered that restedness is perhaps determined less by our circumstances than by the posture of our hearts. I remember a time when we were commissioned by a local Christian charity to create a number of vases in appreciation of their donors. It was an exciting project, and we proposed an experimental concept that we felt would express the organization’s spirit. Yet through the production process, we found ourselves mired in numerous perplexing obstacles. Some vases exploded violently in our kiln, others cracked and warped, and our glazes bubbled and blistered in ways that we had never encountered before. Faced with a looming deadline, we spent our Sabbaths mentally troubleshooting our problems even while religiously refraining from “doing work”. We fretted about the consequences of missing the deadline, about our client’s impression of us, and even more so about our own inadequacies. Sabbath started to feel more like a day where God prevents us from doing what we need to do, rather than a day where God grants rest.

 

And so, only after much prayer and repentance did we summon the courage to surrender this project to God and humbly ask our clients for an extension of time. To our relief, they not only graciously agreed but also encouraged us and empathised with our challenges! Spending the subsequent Sabbath days truly resting in God’s grace, we learned that rest is only really possible when we put our trust in our heavenly Father’s immeasurable goodness and His sovereignty over our lives. At the completion of our project, we took a photo of all the broken shards of our failed vessels to remind ourselves of the futility of our striving, and of the abundance of God’s provision.

 

We learned too, that just as our client’s graciousness allowed us to rest, we often wield that same power over those around us - be it our loved ones, colleagues, or helpers. The chorus of Song for the Sabbath reminds us that “we can leave the land to rest / for He gives what we need today / so we can live with open hands to bless / the ones who come our way”. Witnessing Covid-19’s relentless spread among Singapore’s migrant worker communities, we might feel rightfully indignant about the oppressive living conditions that they endure. Yet how much of this injustice is also a product of our collective inability to rest from striving towards material prosperity, status and greed? Can we, as Christian clients, employers and customers, help pave the way towards a culture that is more contented and gracious – where our own ability to rest is not built on the toil and suffering of those around us? 

 

As children of God who have already been set free in the truth, let us return to His original design for our lives - one that allows His whole creation to thrive and flourish.

 

Prayer

 

Dear Abba Father, help us to overcome our unbelief in your sufficiency. Please help us to be set apart from the world of incessant striving and to discover the delight of the Sabbath. May we learn what it means to not do as we please but to honour this holy day by blessing you. Grant us joy to lay down our burdens and relieve others of theirs. Give us contentment for our daily bread and your peace that surpasses all understanding. May this practice draw others into Your Kingdom where true rest can be found. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen. 

 

About Kenneth Lau and Lee Huiwen - Studio Asobi

 

Kenneth and Huiwen are a husband-wife team of artisans and co-founders of Studio Asobi.

 

Moving into the arts from a corporate environment, they set up a home-based pottery studio in their search for a different way of life in this urban jungle - one that is more contented, peaceful and loving.

 

Through creating, teaching, and playing with clay, they have had the privilege of ministering to fellow sojourners, as well as engaging with marginalised communities in Singapore.

 

In their free time, they try their best to keep up with the boundless energy of their 3-year-old boy Tobie.

Kenneth Lau Lee Huiwen.jpg