The tradition of Sabbath-keeping is often bemoaned as legalistic or irrelevant or just plain impossible. It's too bad, because, for me, Sabbath-keeping is foundational. It is stopping in order to get somewhere, resting in order to wake up, being inattentive to what often seems important in order to become attentive to what is truly important.
I love how the two main Biblical exhortations toward Sabbath-keeping provide two compelling motivations. Exodus 20 says it this way: "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work . . . For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." Here, we are called to rest in order to become more like God. Perhaps, we need to learn that we cannot BE God (trying to "do it all"), but we can grow in imitation of Him. And one of the primary means of grace for this is found in Sabbath-keeping. When we honor Sabbaths, we somehow learn God's heart.
In Deuteronomy 5, we are commanded, "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work . . . Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day." In these verses, we are called to rest in order to both express our freedom and expand it. As I let go of those efforts I so often rely on to prove my own worth, I am free to delight in God's saving work, to express thanks, to give attention to people and ideas and activities I often fail to take time for. And as I do this, I am changed. As I stop to express gratitude, I become more grateful. As I cease from pushing toward this or that, I notice that, despite how urgent this or that may have seemed, I have become less pushy and free to care about other things.
I'm sure this next week will be another full one. I'm already looking forward to Sunday.
If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don't use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God's holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing 'business as usual,' making money, running here and there—
Then you'll be free to enjoy God! (Isaiah 58:13-14)
For all you detail people: This Sunday included participating in corporate worship in the morning, enjoying lunch outside, romping around the neighborhood a bit, and reading books together. When asked his favorite part of the day (a daily bedtime ritual), Ethan said, "Singing 'Blessed Be Your Name' in church." You don't have to be a worship leader mom to know that's a pretty awesome Sabbath! For all you photo seekers, here's a peek at our carefree afternoon: