First Day is a day set aside at the beginning of each month where the MAF family, guided by the principles of Sabbath, stops its normal work routine to enter into a time of rest as we seek to delight in God and contemplate on all He has done for us. We accomplish this through times (individually and corporately) of worship, prayer, recreation, and fellowship. We do not seek to be legalistic, but to be intentional. As an organization desiring to walk with Jesus, we believe First Day can serve as a spiritual discipline for us leading to better discernment, wiser decisions, greater unity, and increasing awareness of all God has in store for us. It stands in subversive rebellion to the spirit of the age which seeks to distract us with a never-ending flow of information and tasks while distorting our identity by saying what we do is more important than Who we are loved by. It is our belief First Day will strengthen the soul of MAF.
We’ve adopted the Four Elements of First Day from The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team and the World.
The Four Elements of First Day
- Stop. First and foremost, we cease all work – paid and unpaid. On First Day we embrace our limits. We let go of the illusion we are indispensable to the running of the world. We recognize we will never finish all our goals and projects and that God is on the throne, managing quite well in ruling the universe without our help.
- Rest. Once we stop, we accept God’s invitation to rest. God rested after His work of creation. We engage in activities that restore and replenish us. The key is to rest from both paid and unpaid work.
- Delight. God invites us to join in the celebration, to enjoy and delight in His creation and all the gifts He offers us in it. The innumerable gifts come to us in many forms, including people, places and things.
- Contemplate. Pondering the love of God is the central focus of our First Day. We are not taking time from God; we are drawing closer to Him. It is an invitation to see the invisible in the visible – to recognize the hidden ways God’s goodness is at work in our lives. In contemplation, we are acutely focused on those aspects of God’s love that come to us through so many gifts from His hand.
For many of us who grew up in a Christian home, Sunday was a day different than the other days of the week. It typically included going to Sunday school and church, followed by a family dinner, and family activities we did together.
While your Sunday may have looked different, it is likely the common element was that this was a day where work was set aside. While there were always chores to be done, we were quite intentional about limiting the work outside to what was necessary. This was a day to focus more intentionally on God and to step back from the hard work that characterized our normal routine. First Day is not intended to replace your personal Sabbath.
For First Day we’ve been watching a series of videos from John Mark Comer, the pastor of Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon. During our October First Day we watched the Sabbath: Rest for Your Soul video. In November, we watched Sabbath: Sabbath as a Rhythm. In December, we plan to watch Sabbath as Resistance.
To give you an idea of how First Day at MAF HQ looks, here is the schedule we’ve followed:
8:00 to 8:30 Worship Music
8:30 to 8:45 David Holsten shares
8:45 to 9:00 Break – to turn off your cell phone, answer any pressing emails, set your “out of office” message.
9:00 to 10:00 Sabbath video
10:00 to 12:30 Rest and Delight
12:30 to 1:30 Feast
1:30 to 1:45 Worship Music
1:51 to 2:15 Contemplate and Prayer Time
2:15 to 3:45 Individual Prayer Time
3:45 to 4:10 Group/table prayer
4:10 to 4:30 Executive Leadership Team closes in prayer (prays over their team members present)
We launched First Day at HQ first to work out any possible kinks before rolling it out to the MAF Field Programs in February 2020. Our field staff needs a margin. Their commute to work is much different than those of us living in the US. Oftentimes, our field staff arrives at the hangar already stressed by navigating the roads, traffic, motorcycles, and protesters. We would like to provide them with time to focus on the Lord.
We invite you to pray alongside us for our staff as we participate in First Day. We also invite you to join in First Day by creating margin in your life. Is God asking you to stop, rest, delight and contemplate Him? If you feel called to participate in your own Sabbath or First Day, let us know! We would love to pray for you.