Clean Slate: Week 4 Discussion Guide

CoreGroup Guide | Clean Slate - Week Four
Written by Sherrill Wall and Jenny Huffman


This is the final week of our series, Clean Slate. We began the series with the precept that less is often better. During that first week we were challenged to consider what things are essential – what we truly value and what activities simply keep us busy. Next, our thoughts focused on beginning any changes we want to make with small steps. Last week we looked at the ways in which new habits develop as a result of discipline and routine. In this final week, we consider how rest and sabbath are incorporated into the rhythm of life as we grow in our faith, activities, and relationships.

Opening Prayer

Thank you God for this day and for our time together. Thank you for discussions that have come out of this topic series. Thank you for the ways in which you nudge us to change. Today, may we be an encouragement to one another as we talk about our experiences. Amen.

Ice Breaker

Last week we talked about routines. What routine do you have that others are unlikely to know about or share? What makes it unique? Is it a daily, weekly, or intermittent routine?

The Head

Israel essentially grew up and became a nation in Egypt. The story of how this happened is told in the last seven chapters of the Book of Genesis. Then, the Book of Exodus begins with the story of how the Israelites came to leave Egypt and settle into the land which we more readily identify as Israel today. Moses, born to Hebrew parents, but raised Egyptian, was used by God to convince Egypt’s Pharaoh to release all of Israel, who by this time were being held as slaves.  

After leaving Egypt, but before reaching their new home, God gave instructions to Moses for how the people of the new nation should live. What we recognize as “The Ten Commandments” was embedded in these instructions. Our scripture today comes from that context.  

Exodus 20:8-11
(8) Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. (9) Six days you may work and do all your tasks, (10) but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work on it – not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you. (11)  Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.  

As slaves in Egypt, Israel never had a day off. For four hundred years they were tools of production for the building of pyramids and the sustaining life of their taskmasters. They worked seven days a week all year long. Living was working. So when God gave his law to Moses, the idea of Sabbath was as radical to them as it may sound to us today.

  • What do you notice about the length of the command? [Look at the rest of Exodus 20 for a point of comparison with the other commandments.]
  • Why do you think this command regarding the Sabbath is so specific?
  • What does this command teach us about God, and our relationship with God?
  • What new design for living is implied by this scripture?
  • This commandment was recorded in the Old Testament thousands of years ago. Is it  still relevant to us today in the same way it was to Israel? Why or why not? 

The Heart

During the Sabbath of Israel, no measurable work was to be done on the seventh day. By the standards of our world, such a notion is inefficient, unproductive, and useless. While we might enjoy our paid time off, we easily fill the space with other “measurable work” activities.

  • How would you describe Sabbath in your own words? 
  • What feelings come up when you think about resting instead of working ? 
  • What does this practice look like in your life?
  • How does Sabbath compare with our modern day Sunday? 
  • What value do you see in setting aside a day like the Sabbath? 
  • What barriers might need to be removed in order to practice Sabbath?

The Hands

It is obvious from the Exodus scripture above, which is repeated in various ways in a number of other places, that Sabbath rest is important. It is a gift to us for our well being and an opportunity to reset our focus on God. If we look at the life of Jesus, we can see that he extended the concept of a weekly Sabbath to a daily rhythm of setting aside time to retreat and to refocus his relationship with the Father. [See Mark 1:35]

Beyond this, our culture also recognizes the importance of rest:

  • The online magazine states, “Rest days are just as important as exercise in a successful fitness regimen.”

  • Forbes Magazine goes on to suggest that, “Adequate rest helps the body activate its inner healing cascade.” 

  • Integris Health even claims that, “Rest is vital for better mental health, increased concentration and memory.” 

In her article, The Importance of Resting, author Holly Riddle identifies seven separate rest components: Physical – napping or sleeping; Mental – brain slow down; Sensory – unplugging sounds; Creative – refilling the creative well; Emotional – expressing feelings without continuous monitoring; Social – temporary withdrawal from others; Spiritual – reconnection with essence.

  • Which of these different “rest components” do you feel the most drawn to?
  • Which area do you think is the most challenging? Why? 
  • This week, think about how these practices are integrated into your patterns of work/rest.
  • Choose one or two to incorporate into your weekly rhythm, keeping in mind the lessons of the series to start with small steps and to build habits.  

Closing Prayer

Holy God, as we have looked again today at how change happens in our lives, we are reminded that you do not change. You are the one who is constant – always loving, always merciful, always just. You are always patient, always kind and forgiving. You remember us for good and not for judgment.  Encourage us on our way to be as you are. Amen.

Additional Resources

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

God Walk by Mark Buchanan

Strengthening the Soul of Leadership
& Embracing Work and Rest
by Ruth Haley Barton

CoreGroup Announcements

This weekend the Wellness Ministry will be offering a special half day workshop titled Shift Happens: Navigating Life’s Transitions. All are welcome!

Date: Saturday, February 3, 2024
Time: 8:30am – 12:00pm
Location: McCausland Site Multi Purpose Room

To learn more and register for the event, click here: Shift Happens: Navigating Life's Transitions.

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