What is Sabbath?
I have found that I can do daily office, prayer, church, community group, scripture memory, study the Bible + read theology for hours, lectio divina, fast, and pray in dust and ashes. But if I don’t STOP and get the rest my soul needs on a regular, ongoing, weekly basis I will likely not show up with the spiritual energy required of me to be a loving, kind, peaceful, gentle, kind, patient, faithful, self controlled Christ follower.
Stress left unattended, or a rhythm of overwork does violence to our soul and spiritual life. It is no small misstep. Sabbath is where we were intended to work from, not for.
I never have time for Sabbath. At the end of my week there is always a list of to do’s left to be done, there are always emails and texts I didn’t find the time to reply to, there are always people and opportunities I have to put off in order to be able to STOP and find rest.
Create a Sabbath:
Stop– The very meaning of the Hebrew word Sabbath is stop or cease. This means STOP working, those demands, requests, emails, and needs will be there tomorrow and the day after and the day after that. In fact they will never stop! Sabbath is not done out of convenience or being absolutely finished with what needs to get done. Sabbath is a practice out of necessity to live into a future reality of complete delight in God and renewal of our world.
Rest– Consider these as sabbath practices that can help you to find rest: napping, working out, going for long walks, reading a novel or non work related book, recreation, watching a good movie, going out for dinner. Whatever is going to allow you the time and space to experience restfulness. Anything that creates restlessness, consider it something to avoid.
Delight– Sabbath delight invites us to healthy play. The word chosen by the Greek Fathers for the perfect, mutual indwelling of the Trinity was perichoenisis. It literally means “dancing around.” Creation and life are, in a sense, God’s gift of a playground to us. Whether it be through sports, recreation, dance, games, looking at old family photographs, or visiting museums, nurturing our sense of pure fun in God also is part of Sabbath.
Contemplate– Pondering the love of God remains the central focus of our Sabbaths. Throughout Jewish and Christian history, Sabbath has included worship with God’s people where we feast on his presence, the reading and study of Scripture, and silence. For this reason, Saturdays (if your tradition gathers on that day) or Sundays remain the ideal time for Sabbath keeping whenever possible. Every Sabbath also serves as a taste of the glorious eternal party of music, food, and beauty that awaits us in heaven when we see him face to face (Revelation 22:4). On every Sabbath, we experience a sampling of something greater that awaits us. Our short earthly lives are put in perspective as we look forward to the day when God’s kingdom will come in all its fullness and we will enter an eternal Sabbath feast in God’s perfect presence. We will taste his splendor, greatness, beauty, excellence, and glory far beyond anything we ever experienced or dreamed.