Brian Skyrms is a recent graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Originally from Tampa, Florida, Brian grew up in a Christian home. As a seventeen-year-old, in Venezuela, he surrendered to God’s call to a life of service in ministry. He then pursued a BS in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Services from Georgia Southern. Brian is married to Julie and they have two daughters: Leah (6) and Annabelle (18 mo), with a new son coming in July. Brian’s passions are for cross-cultural ministry, the holistic salvation of the Gospel, creation care, and discipleship. He and his wife are currently a part of the Offerings Community at First UMC Lexington. He graduated in May 2015 and will be staying in the Central Kentucky area. Read part one here.
What, if any, benefits have you noticed in your physical, mental, and spiritual health since you began keeping a Sabbath?
We have noticed as a family that our Sabbath time together keeps us connected to one another and to each other’s faith. We have learned to recognize that without this time our relationships are strained and we all act more selfishly toward one another. This is a major form of self- and family-care is priceless in the midst of the never-ending demands of ministry, work, and school. With Sundays being so effortless, it gives us the mental, emotional, and social space to focus on our worship with the church and focus during our time with the small group. Not having to cook all but three or four Sundays a semester helps as well. We have also found that we do not feel as obligated to stay as socially busy, knowing that we have fruitful social time each Sunday, and only wanting to add other social events to the weekend that we know will build us up.
The Sabbath group has been an incredible space for growth in our faith and transformation. We have greatly benefitted from having trusted spiritual friendships in which to express our struggles, ask for accountability and prayer, receive support and encouragement, and at times just enjoy each other’s company. Over the years, I have reflected on the ways in which the Sabbath group has become a kind of Eucharistic community. We do not bless elements or celebrate a rite, but the ritual of gathering together around a table in recognition of the Lord’s living power as ruler over our lives has been a rhythm that has shaped us. Together we have trusted in this rule to continue even as we take a day to stop work.
How has Sabbath keeping affected your marriage, your family, and/or your ministry?
My family has been blessed by allowing ourselves the freedom to say no to good things that would crowd our time. We have fought to find a rhythm, to establish and protect boundaries that are life-giving for us. It has made us more intentional during our family time together outside of the group.
Some in the group have expressed how our Sabbath together has influenced the way they approach work during the other six days of the week. Knowing they will not have Sunday evenings to do homework means making sure to get the work done or the chores accomplished before Sunday comes.
I think there is something to be said about the anticipation for Sabbath as well. We have all come to cherish these times together so that each week they are a celebration. Surely we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries along the way, but there is something about our feasting together that makes it a celebration of life lived throughout the week and the chance to gather together.
I know we all would say the kids have been a blessing as well. We have seen the body of Christ at work as those without kids have opportunities to play and learn parenting skills. We all receive love from our little people as well as shower them with love.
We have also talked about how our other ministry settings have been able to receive more attention and focus. There is a sense that we feel like we have more to give to those relationships and activities. After taking time to receive from the Lord and from each other on Sunday evenings, some feel restoration to be more engaged leading bible studies, helping with the youth, or other ministries we are involved in.
If you could share one encouragement with others, what would it be?
I think we have found the greatest encouragement to be that it’s a journey, a process. It takes commitment, but requires grace in life to make adjustments as things change. We have all benefited from doing this journey with our families, and also within the accountability of the group. It reminds us of the purpose and makes the practice so much more meaningful because it is shared with others.