What’s The Deal with Sabbath?

Do you take ‘Sabbath’ seriously? Well what does that mean, I should ask – how do you ‘take the Sabbath’, if at all?

  • Some see it as a day off, and this simply means as a day of from the paid job.
  • Some just don’t see it as relevant.
  • Others I speak to see, it as a fast, a kind of fast from something that seems to be done on most other days. An example maybe like Stu in Busso who chooses not to blog on Sunday. Some may fast from food for the day, from TV, or …sex? But they do something that separate this day from others in the week.
  • Some see it as a spiritual day. It is a day for going to a place of worship with others and doing church. They may go more than once. Some my dedicate the whole day to the Lord in the sense that they may spend extended times in prayer, reading, reflecting and attending corporate worship or having their own times of worship.
  • I was a pastor in a local church for some time and Sundays was by no means a day off, it was in fact the most stressful day of my week and the one on which I worked the longest hours. So for pastors like that, are they ‘alllowed’ to pick another day and call it their Sabbath or is that not on?
  • Well, come to think of it, if we were to follow tradition, the Saturday was the Sabbath was it not? What does that mean for us?
  • Some people I speak to connect the Sabbath not just to themselves having a day off, but giving the earth and all that is around them a day off. What does this mean? Well to give the earth a rest, I guess you don’t ‘turn it’ and reap from it, as in garden. And they suggest that the use of vehicles which poor pollutants into the earths atmosphere would not equate to giving the earth a rest either, so they would choose to limit or use altogether a car. This day would be a ‘stay at home day’.

How do I Sabbath?
I often reflect on the scripture that suggests that the Sabbath is for me, it serves me, I don’t become the servant of the Sabbath. It does not lay down a series of rules for me to adhere to, rather it was laid down for my benefit and restoration. What ways do this best for my life and the life of my family?
We see ‘work’ as a six day seamless activity. What I mean by that is that paid work and house work are all seen as ‘work’. (depending on what you consider as ‘work’ around the house. Eg, some see gardening as work, others see it as relaxation). So lets say you have 12 hours in a day from 6am to 6pm. In that time people work, they get lunches ready, they get kids ready for school, they tidy house, they make dinner, they attend to their paid employment, they do all sorts of things considered as work. After six meals and fun and conversation and story telling and hobby and sleep all take place.
This includes Saturday. For many Saturday includes no paid work, but there are plenty of things that are still needing to be done that may be considered ‘work’. As mentioned above, gardening maybe one of them. Washing your car (although I am sure there are better things to do with water than spray it over a hunk of metal and plastic!), vacuuming the house, mopping floors, washing clothes, house cleaning, shopping, so many things just to keep the house and the lives within running smoothly.

Sunday comes…The ideal is that most of our ‘work’ has been done from Monday through Saturday and we awake to the sound of bees humming in the freshly planted flowers, the sound of birds singing in the trees and so on. We are relaxed and ready for day that is high in relationship with each other, with God and with friends and wider family. We often chose to go to a place of worship or if we don’t we would create our own worship, prayer and learning experience where ever we are. Sometimes this is at home with friends and family, or in another’s home, sometimes it may be in the bush out camping overnight to encounter more closely God’s incredible creation in a first hand way. The day may be relaxing around the home, reading or gardening or even building something in the shed that is not a ‘job’ but rather a task of relaxation and re-creation. It’s a slow day mostly, maybe a drive to someone’s house for a meal or a coffee, but mostly on average I think we are at home. The truth is that washing does get done often on a Sunday night in prep for the week ahead, and many times some house work overflows from the Saturday. In fact many times the relaxed slow feel flows backward from Sunday to Saturday, so the Sabbath is kind of ‘shared’ over the weekend. I do have a kind of ideal in my head, but it does not scream too loudly at me, just loud enough to tell me that I am ‘working’ and not sabbathing on those special days. I love some of the ideas Randy Frazee puts forward in his book “Making Room For Life”, I have taken hold of many of these and I guess some of this has come out through these thoughts.

Have a day, of re-creation, it’s gold!

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5 thoughts on “What’s The Deal with Sabbath?

  1. Nice post Scott

    I posted something on the same subject here http://jarrolspot.blogspot.com/2006/05/lifeshapes-semi-circle.html

    It’s a study we did one week, and I think it speaks pretty good about the Sabbath

    “But looking at creation, what was mans first day spent doing? We were created on the 6th day. So our first full day as a created being was the 7th day, and that was the day God rested. So our first day on the planet, we rested with God.” (Quote from that post)

    I think God created us with a desire to work, but he also created us with the intent to rest in him. I believe the Sabbath can be any day of the week, it just needs to be the ‘begining’ of our working week, so we start off by resting with God.

    Somewhere else I posted this a few weeks ago

    “I had my daily reading this morning, and it was about God wanting to be part of every aspect of our lives. This guy (Steve Fry) wrote of how one day he was partaking in one of his rare ‘down’ times and enjoying a peanut butter and jelly (americans ) sandwich and watching the Flinstones (he explained how for some reason he loves old school cartoons and just finds it one way to really relax).

    Suddenly while watching Fred convince Barney into some other hair-brain scheme he felt God’s presence very strongly in the room. He said his first impression was to turn off the TV and get on his knees, but then he felt God say “No, I want to watch the Flinstones with you.”

    He said this brought about a whole new way of looking at God, that his life was turned around by the fact that God wasn’t just with him when he was praying, or when he was at church, or thinking about Him, but his everday activities, his hobbies, could be spiritual too, because God wanted to do everything with him. “

    I think that relates to the Sabbath as well, God wants to spend time with us, so our Sabbath’s don’t have to be a whole day of prayer and fasting. But just resting, enjoying life – but doing it with God.

    For me – I love washing my car on a Sunday afternoon, I crank the sterio with good worship music and spend about an hour washing my car. for me it’s restful and a time i actually share with God.

    I understand for many others washing the car would be considered work… so my views on the Sabbath are quite broad.

  2. Great stuff, thanks for your insights. It’s interesting just how`every person has differing views on Sabbath and how we differ as to what is ‘work’. See ya

  3. In a world where we are obsessed with fitting as much into our day as possible, I think God just wants to know that He comes first. That we’ll put Him before our desire to be busy.
    My Sabbath day often changes every week and it is very rarely a sunday. I’m ok with not having it the same day every week cos with God I always think it’s not about what we do, but our attitude while doing it.

  4. i don’t find it easy to have a sabbath as I used to know it, now that life is so seamless, but I do believe in what I am calling ‘spacious living’ – living in such a way that there is room to breathe, to move slowly and to speed up if necessary.

    I used to have a rigid sabbath. Now i don’t. i don’t think one way is better than another, but I do believe we need replenishment time.

  5. I wrote a sermon for college last year that touched on this. Here’s a rejig of some of my writings from that:

    Louie Giglio, in his book called ‘I Am Not But I Know I AM’, says that “Without Sabbath, we forget who we are and lose sight of who [God] is, leaving us to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. When there is no Sabbath in our lives we become intoxicated by the lie that the sum of our lives depends on our effort alone. We get to the place where we truly believe that the outcome of the story fully depends on us.”

    So it’s about letting God be God, and knowing that we’re not God!

    The challenge for us is not simply to take a ‘Sabbath day’ each week, but to be able to live our lives with a Sabbath mindset. Another book I was reading the other day pointed out something we don’t often notice when we’re reading the creation account in Genesis. Here’s what it says in Genesis:

    “And God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day’, and the darkness ‘night’. And there was evening and morning, the first day.”

    “And there was evening and morning, the first day”. Let that mess with your head for a while. According to what we read here, a day finished as the sun went down, and the evening was the start of the new day. So a day started with night, had morning in the middle and ended with the daytime. So what, you might ask?

    If we see a day like it’s described there, it means that people are normally resting and sleeping for the first part of the day. So if we can think like that it means that when we wake up in the morning we recognise that God has already been at work for the first half of the day and we wake up to see what he has already been doing. We’re not waking up to start anything; God has already been going fine without us for 12 hours. He managed to make the sun rise without any help from you or me, and the great thing is we come along half way through the day and get to take part! So instead of thinking that we’re starting a new day, we recognise that we’re simply taking part in what God’s already doing.

    Not suggesting here that we rewrite the 24-hour time system, just saying this kind of idea helps me to remember that it doesn’t all depend on me. I work hard each day and do my best, but I also know that I’m small and the world will keep spinning without my help!

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