Sabbath keeping is not about taking a day off but about being recalled to our knowledge of and gratitude for God’s activity in creating the world, giving liberty to captives, and overcoming the powers of death.
Keeping Sabbath is about asking, Where is there space for God to show up in my life? How do I rest so that I can remember who I am as created by God to reflect God’s goodness? How do I rest so that I remember I have been set free from the power of sin and death?
Prayer for Sabbath
God of all glory, on this first day you began creation, bringing light out of darkness. On this first day you began your new creation, raising Jesus Christ out of the darkness of death. On this Lord’s day grant that we, the people you have made your own by water and the Spirit, may be joined with all your works in praising you for your great glory. Through Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, we praise you now and forever.
- Joyful worship.
- Feasting, playing, taking delight in nature and in one another.
- Freedom that contributes to the freedom of others and to the well-being of the natural world.
- Something different from what you do regularly all other days.
What’s good to say “no” to on the Sabbath?
- Committee meetings, even for church. Schedule meetings on other days.
- The marketplace. Try not to spend money on the Sabbath. Refuse to let the marketplace govern life this day.
- Sadness and mourning. “The Sabbath does not ‘do away’ with sadness and sorrow,” writes Pinchas H. Peli in The Jewish Sabbath, “it merely requires that all sadness be ‘tabled’ for one day so that we may not forget that there is also joy and happiness in the world and acquire a more balanced and hopeful picture of life.” Even mourning is suspended in order to rejoin the community for Sabbath. “The Sabbath, by its very being, comforts and heals.”
Rest from commerce.
Name 3 things you might do to “rest” from commerce on the Sabbath.
Rest from worry.
What activities summon worry or anger in you – paying bills, doing tax returns, making “to do” lists for coming week, thinking of things or people who irritate you? If you knew you could refrain from those worrisome activities for 24 hours every week, how would it change your week? How might it help you let go of slights and grudges?
Rest for creation.
How can we spend Sabbath practicing a way of life that is good for creation? What might this do to us during the other six days? What step could I take to encourage rest, recovery, renewal for the planet? What activity could I do to care for nature?
Rest from work.
- What would this mean for you and for your friends and family?
- Do you know anyone who is required to work on Sundays? Name what Sabbath might mean in this person’s situation. How can you help him/her find joy in Sabbath?
- Pray for work, for colleagues, for bosses, for those under management.
- How could you support those who are looking for work?
- What issues do workers face that Sabbath rest makes you aware of?
- What do I need to say yes to in my job for me and for others?
Attend Sunday worship. Sunday is not just about “going to church”; it is about taking part in the activity by which God is shaping a new creation. It is a foretaste of the feast to come.
Spend an hour in solitude. Sleep/nap. Read. Reflect. Walk. Pray.
Rest as a church.
Visit the homebound. Invite lonely ones over for a meal. Dissuade a committee from meeting on Sunday. Instead of rushing out after worship, have a cup of coffee (or tea or water) with someone in the church you know or would like to get to know.
Good Sabbaths make good Christians, and Good Sabbaths make good societies.
Reflect on the quote by Barbara Brown Taylor in Altar in the World
“At least one day in seven, pull off the road and park the car in the garage. Turn off the computer. Stay home not because you are sick but because you are well. Talk someone you love into being well with you. Test the premise that you are worth more than you can produce—that even if you spent the whole day being good for nothing you would still be precious in God’s sight.”
Read the blog post: Why I Keep Sabbath? by Jana Reiss