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Viewpoint from Victor Hulbert 24/07/2015 

Victor Hulbert 1Victor Hulbert
Communication Director
Seventh-day Adventist Church, UK & Ireland


Happy Sabbath 

One of the quirky idiosyncrasies of being a Seventh-day Adventist is that come Friday evening or Saturday morning I will be bombarded with the phrase, 'Happy Sabbath'!  

dove leftSo why all this emphasis on 'Happy Sabbath'?  Is a religiously orientated day of rest something that can really be described as 'happy'?  Isn't happy to do more with birthday parties, trips to the seaside, love, life and adventure?  After all, a worship service tends to be a more sombre kind of experience, albeit there may be some lively singing involved

This was brought home to me recently when visiting a church in Southall.  Eleven-year-old Owen had been tasked to share the platform with me, giving the welcome and reading the scripture passage.  Bright and articulate, he managed both tasks extremely well.  An enthusiastic young man, he was not content with 'Happy Sabbath'.  He concluded his welcome with the words, "I hope you have a brilliant Sabbath"

This is not the space to get into a debate on which is the correct or appropriate day of worship – but for me, when I worship, I want it to be brilliant.  I want it to be like 13-year-old Onanefe who I met in Wakefield.  He was getting baptised (and yes, Adventists practice full baptism by immersion).  The smile on his face brought the word 'brilliant' to mind.  Onanefe suffers from sickle-cell anaemia. His story – which included crying out to God in severe pain ? brought tears to my eyes.  God has been answering his prayers and that of his family.  Happy does not do justice to his experience

Dove rightI went to visit another friend recently.  Dawn has terminal cancer.  She has chosen not to undergo chemotherapy.  She is losing weight.  She knows that without a miracle she only has months to live.  Yet she is a leader in her small Cornish church, and is certainly the motivating force in her extended family.  She met me with a smile on her face.  "God knows what is best", she told me.  "I'm ready for whatever comes."  And yes, when she met me in church she wished me a 'Happy Sabbath'

Where does that joy come from?  Perhaps it is the reassurance we find in Jesus as so clearly stated in the book of Hebrews.  Painting a picture of Jesus as high priest, already in heaven, but who has lived through our human experience the writer of Hebrews encourages, "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" [Hebrews 4:16 NIV]

For me that leads not just to a 'happy Sabbath', but to a happy 'any day of the week', and most importantly, to a 'happy ever after'