Today is the Sabbath. Are You Resting?

Sabbath rest.  We are commanded to remember the Sabbath and keep in holy.  What day is the Sabbath?  Around here that is a serious question.  With a local Seventh Day Adventist college we are heavily populated by SDA churches of all sizes and types.  Saturday is the only acceptable day for worship for them, it is the Sabbath.  A few old time Adventists are so convinced of the rightness of their day that they are equally convinced that we Sunday people are doomed to hell.  On the other hand, most Christian literature of the 19th and 20th centuries had no problem conflating the words Sunday, Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.  All one and the same as far as they were concerned.  Logically minded people like to stir the pot by reminding us that Saturday or Sunday are mere conventions for certain days assigned to the calendar of the Common Era, and given the many changes in the western calendar over the years, who knows when the real Sabbath might have been?  Wading in are certain biblical scholars contending that the original Sabbath was a bimonthly not weekly event, which is not what it says in Genesis but who cares.
God must wonder how we can get so screwed up over one simple question.  Oddly enough, our Anglican tradition agrees, in part, with the Adventists.  Saturday, convention or not, is the Sabbath and is to be a day of rest in preparation for the celebration on Sunday, the Lord’s Day.  Of course that is not to say that we actually rest on Saturday to prepare for celebratory worship on Sunday, but that’s another story.  The point is that Sabbath rest is important for our spiritual, emotional and physical well being as human beings.  I’m not convinced that God cares very much which day out of seven is devoted to Sabbath rest, but one should be.  I don’t remember ever taking a real Sabbath rest during my secular working days.  I don’t recall ever giving it any thought at all.  During my ordained working days I tried to make Friday my Sabbath but with marginal success.  Now I’m retired and Sabbath should come easy, but it doesn’t.  
I’m on a committee that is grappling with how to improve the spiritual dimensions of healing in our local Adventist hospital.  A good question was brought to the table at our last meeting.  How can we make Sabbath rest a part of each patient’s experience while they are here?  I’ve been a patient (too many times for my taste).  Lots of things happen to patients.  Probing, sticking, moving, testing, feeding, visiting, IVs and drugs, half stoned semi-awareness, noisy halls, loud talking, unanswered calls for nursing help, boredom, restless sleep.  It’s quite a buffet, and Sabbath rest would be a delightful and healing addition.
I wonder how Sabbath rest could be introduced into other venues of ordinary life?  I wonder how Sabbath rest could become a treasured part of our weekly lives?  God commanded the Sabbath not because God needed it, but because we need it.  I wonder if we shouldn’t take God more seriously on this one.   Today is the Sabbath.  I’ve got coffee with a friend, dry cleaning to drop off and pick up, a stop at the pharmacy and a funeral to attend, then I’ll rest.  How about you? 

4 thoughts on “Today is the Sabbath. Are You Resting?”

  1. And a holy Sabbath to you.We start our Sabbath with the lighting of the candles at sunset on Friday night. I have changed the prayer over the candles to \”Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe who commands us to be light unto the world\” The candles are lit to remind us that this is the beginning of a special time. The meal is simple to prepare and simple uncomplicated flavors are the stars of the meal (just salt and pepper on the chicken, maybe some herbs on the roasted potatoes, salad and fruit). We use this set aside time as an anchor to the week past and ahead. Yes there are tasks that get done over the weekend, but friends, reeding time, quiet time and shared time are all important parts of the sabbath \”celebration\” \”recreation\” experience. While it is true that it really doesn't matter what day of the week it falls on. I do think that not having a specific day recognized by a or the group/community is deleterious to the intended experience of Sabbath.

  2. Your description of the lack of rest in the \”local Adventist hospital\” is a masterpiece of descriptive satirical writing!I can vouch for it from experience; one would have to go home to get any \”sabbath\” rest! Although the overwhelming majority of Christians celebrate Sunday \”as though\” the Sabbath, Blackstone's classic Commentary on the English Common Law says that in spite of that practice, \”Sunday is not the Sabbath\” but \”the Lord's Day\” kept \”in place of\” the Sabbath. The Romance Language countries try to resolve the conflict by considering Monday as the first day of the week (as most Americans also do, in practice)the word for Saturday is sometimes the language equivalent of \”sabbath\” (e.g. Spanish sabado). Greek Orthodox don't use the pagan names for the days of the week, but like the Quakers, say \”second day\” for Monday etc. but sabbaton for Saturday and paraskeue (preparation day) for Friday, which are originally Jewish usages, since Orthodox Jews avoid using any pagan names for days (or months, as early Christians also did, and Puritans tried to revive). English uses the name of the pagan Roman god Saturn for Saturday, but French says \”samedi\” from the Celtic god of the dead, Samein (cf. Halloween), and Germans sometimes say Samtstag from the same Celtic god, but often say Sonnabend, Sun(day)Eve, to avoid saying that bad luck name! \”Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace,etc.But the child that's born on the Sabbath day (Sunday!) Is blithe and bonny and good and gay\”. Despite that nursery rhyme, the Puritans often considered a child born on Sabbath(Sunday)a child of sin, since the parents had had sexual relations on that day (!), which Puritan doctrine forbade.Footnote: The English people threw out the Puritan government in 1660 and reinstated the Anglicans, (verywhere but in New England),apparently out ofboredom!

  3. If Sabbath is rest and enjoyment, today was a wonderful day for both. After some devotion time and breakfast, I visited the YMCA for a great workout, which is something I enjoy. A couple of hours at the Scrapbook store in a workshop, read some, painting and collaging – finishing up a couple of projects, I journaled, wrote a post for tomorrow, had a lovely simple dinner prepared for me by spouse and have just finished watching a silly sweet movie with Sandra Bullock in it – a very nice day:)I think everyone should practice a day of rest and quiet of their own choosing – sounds a little selfish – I think it sounds life giving.

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