Dear Sabbath Seekers,
I recently saw a question on a chat board asking if Sabbath keeping was considered a sin for Christians. After doing a double take and verifying that it said what I thought it said, I paused to consider what could make someone think that.
Did this questioner feel the Old Testament had no authority for Christians? Then, all the commandments in the Hebrew Scriptures are null and void and I don’t think that has merit.
Did they feel that because Jesus said Sabbath was made for man and not man for Sabbath that somehow it was not necessary? I don’t think Jesus words seem to negate the need for a Sabbath. He is just taking the legalism out of it.
Or, did this person feel that Sunday as the Lord’s Day had co-opted the need for Sabbath keeping? Perhaps…
Historically at the outset of Christianity, both Saturday, as Sabbath, and Sunday, as the Lord’s Day of Resurrection were observed. Eventually, Christians dropped the Saturday Sabbath and focused on Sunday as the day to worship and rest.
So perhaps in a literal sense his question has merit. However, in the spirit of the fourth commandment, the need for rest and God’s giving it to us as a command and a gift still holds true. The spirit of this law is not about the legalisms that have grown up around the Sabbath such as no reading, playing or enjoying yourself. The Spirit of this command offers us a life-giving pause, time to rest, reconnect with God and loved ones, be healed of our busyness and to give thanks for the bounty and beauty of life that God has shared with us.
I don’t see how that could ever become a sin.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3.16-17
Dear Sabbath Seekers,
Yesterday I heard a sermon that talked about how Sabbath is God’s antidote to stress. Sabbath is a once a week cleansing of our stress levels if we are obedient in taking one. He detailed all the things we know all too well about life. It’s busy. It’s fast and it is stressful. No matter who you are, no matter your stage in life, no matter your station in life, no matter your gender…if you are alive, you have stress. Some of it is good and some of it harms us. Y’all know that.
However, he turned a phrase that made my ears perk up. He said something like if we run our stress through a Sabbath we end up with strength. The image came to me of Sabbath as a giant colander or machine that we could put our stress in one end and wait for the strength to come out the other end. Or, like going to the hairdresser and saying give me a fresh look and after a little shampoo, color and trim, voila there you are all refreshed and feeling good.
Taking time on Sabbath to just rest, do nothing and let God refresh us does make us feel stronger the next day. Mondays after a particularly restful Sunday can find me energized and ready to move into the week.
On other hand, without rest after a busy week my stress simply becomes strain on me, my energy and definitely goes with me into the next week leaving me with far less strength than I need to be productive.
God knew what our bodies, minds and spirit would need after navigating the ups and downs of life each week. So I wonder why we think we know more than God and ignore that wonderful gift of a Sabbath day’s rest?
My four-year-old granddaughter served as my mentor on learning what Sabbath could be like. I chronicled my experiences with her in a book I just published called “A Sabbath Journey – a little child shall lead us.” It is now available on Amazon if you are interested in a monthly devotional book that allows you time to reflect each week and try a new approach to Sabbath taking. I hope you will check it out and enjoy.
Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11.28
Dear Sabbath Seekers,
This week I had what I thought was a very strange assignment in a class I am taking. I was asked to make a promise to myself every day and then to journal about how it felt to keep it or not to keep it. Furthermore, at the end of the week I was asked to reflect on what I wanted to stay the same, what I wanted more of and what I wanted to change in my life as a result. What I thought was strange on the surface became a profound inner experience for me.
As the week began I noticed that my promises were really just part of my to do list. “I promise to finish x”. Or, “I promise to accomplish y.” By mid-week I wasn’t sure this is what the assignment was about. On Wednesday I switched from promises to do something to promises about how I wanted to be that day. For example, “I promise myself that I will not lose my temper, or judge someone today, or complain.” Then, my promises became more positive…”I promise to enjoy myself in all things today.” By the end of the week I noticed how much easier I was breathing, living and being. The to do list was still there but my new promises gave me a new perspective with which to carry them out.
The Sabbath is a promise we can make to ourselves. We can promise ourselves that we will stop, rest for a day or a moment in time. It is a promise when kept that will change our perspective. It is a moment in time when we realize that we are enough, that we are more than our to do lists or accomplishments and that the world will go on without our controlling any part of it. It can be humbling to realize this and it can also be freeing.
But it is also an affirmation from God that we are enough – even at rest. God says you have done enough for now, for this day, for this week. You are enough just as you are and I grant you this time to rest, reconnect and re-create. God invites us to come sit, talk and be in God’s presence for a time of peace and joy. It is a promise from God and it can be our promise back to God that surely we will. It is a promise that may sound strange in this day and age but it is a promise of a profound inner experience for those who keep it. It is a promise that can change your life.
“For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant, Abraham. He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy; he gave them lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for-that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws. Praise the Lord.” Psalms 105.42-45
Blessings of promise to you,