Sabbath – It means the Lord’s Day, the Day of Rest, right? Right! It is a Hebrew word, meaning “to stop or cease” usually from labor or work. The Lord God rested from his work on the seventh day of creation in Genesis 2:2, and then in Exodus 20, commanded us to do the same.
For us in the 21st century, the cultural habit of Sabbath is largely gone, or is at least relegated to “when it works for us” or to “never get around to it”. It used to be easier to rest for a day because there wasn’t as much to do – everything was closed, all the games and practices and classes and events just didn’t happen on Sunday. Now we have to work hard to make Sabbath happen, which is more than a little ironic.
How do you find Sabbath in your life? I imagine there are big Sabbaths and little Sabbaths, some connected to your faith walk and some not. I just returned from a big Sabbath experience with my family on the east coast of the US and points between here and there. It reminded me that Sabbath – resting or ceasing work – comes in all kinds of ways.
Of course there was the Sabbath of simply being on vacation from my workplace (though as a pastor one’s work is always in one’s heart). And there was the Sabbath of walking beautiful historic streets in Boston, Princeton and Old Quebec; and that of listening to the waves lapping on the shores of the Maine and New Brunswick. But there was also the Sabbath of relationship renewal, as I spent days with my husband and daughters, just being together and not taking off in a bunch of different directions. We experienced the same things and could share our reactions on the spot. I saw my girls’ relationship with one another deepen, delighting in their interaction with each other.
It is good to rest, regroup, refresh and then return to the tasks of life. If we do, we are better ready, better prepared and more likely to feel grateful for the joys of life as we know them, more ready to take on the bumps and bruises along the way with better resilience. And if we take some time – say an hour or two once a week – to return to the source of all life and the Creator of Sabbath, well, then, we can remained far more grounded in what matters in life and not get so carried away with the weird stuff our culture likes to fool us with.
Sabbath is a blessing, a gift from God. Do you know someone who has lost sight of this gift? Are there folks you know who have forgotten that they are beloved children of a Creator, who walks with them and will help them to shoulder all that they try to carry? Or maybe just someone who works too much? Invite them to come and share Sabbath with us – here at church on Sunday, here at an event or a meal or a time of study or fellowship. Help them discover what you know – that Sabbath is important and there are many ways to experience it… and one of the best ways is among those who make up the Body of Christ.
~ Pr. Laura