For Sabbath’s Sake
In the age of 24/7, it’s difficult to find holy time amid our jam-packed days, especially as we prepare for the holidays. Work and home are no longer separate. We find ourselves tethered to the very devices developed to make us more efficient. Weekends are filled with endless to-dos; obligations pile up. Before we know it, we feel stressed and overwhelmed. This is not what God intended for us.
There is an alternative. God’s people have defined holy time in many ways. Jews observe shabbat (the Hebrew word for ceasing or stopping)—which is the very thing that God creates in Genesis 2 when God rests after six days of work. Traditionally, shabbat lasts from 24 to 25 hours per week, from sundown on Friday until three stars are visible in the sky on Saturday. A full day of rest means taking time to observe the wonder of creation, pray, study, and gather with loved ones. This “stop day” has been the keystone to living fuller, more spiritual lives.
Christians carried on the Hebrew tradition, following the example of Jesus, who kept the sabbath holy but also saw fit to add an aspect of service. Christ healed the sick and fed the hungry on the sabbath, even though temple priests looked unfavorably on his actions. Jesus’ Sunday resurrection and post-resurrection appearances to his disciples helped Christians establish the first day of the week as a day of ceasing in order to practice solitude, rest, devotion, worship, community, and service.
This “stop day” has been the keystone to living fuller, more spiritual lives.
But today, no matter our faith tradition, sabbath may feel out of our reach. Pausing is antithetical to our culture’s growing notion of being “on.” The heightened pace of our lives demonstrates why sabbath has become all the more urgent. But a sabbath practice requires the humility and trust that we can cease from our labors and the world won’t crumble beneath us. We must trust that God will provide, just as the Hebrews in the desert trusted that their double portion of manna would last them two days.
December is an especially busy month for women, and there’s no better time to stop and remember the true intent of the season. During the next four weeks, through online discussion, journaling, prayer, and discussion with family and friends, we’ll explore what sabbath means to us, how it is useful, and how we can combat the need to be in constant motion. If you have a journal, use it this month to record your thoughts and experiences. Sabbath is about both solitude and community, so I encourage you to take time by yourself as well as being intentional about spending time with others during this season of joy. Use your reflections to think about how you would like to spend your time in the coming year, an opportunity to start anew.
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