Sabbath

Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 14 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day. – Deuteronomy 5:12 – 15

In Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Sacred Rhythms, (p.142-144) she reminds us to include in our sabbath “whatever delights you and replenishes you” as you find rest for your body, replenish your spirit and restore your soul.  Consider these suggestions when truly seeking sabbath:

Resting the body:  The goal here is to replace the time you would normally spend working with activities that you find restorative: a nap, a walk, a bike ride, a long bath, eating your favorite foods, sitting in the sun, or listening to beautiful music.

Replenishing the spirit:  Pay attention to what replenishes your spirit and choose only activities that renew you and bring you joy.  Obviously, this is highly personal to each of us; it is amazing to have permission to pay attention to what delights you and then choose that on this day.  Caution: pay attention to those activities that merely stimulate you or serve as fillers and those things that really replenish you.  Usually TV and most technology are not really replenishing; they tend to be distractions from God’s more meaningful gifts.

Restoring the soul: Probably the deepest refreshment is the invitation to renew the soul through worship and quiet reflection.  This is the part of us that gets most lost during the work week.  Of course, you’ll want to include worship in community, but it is also good to incorporate some aspect of worship that is more personal to you and to your family into your sabbath observance.  If applicable, think about both things you can do alone and as a family.  Finally, don’t make sabbath keeping a weighty exercise.  Explore it with delight.  Then, be as intentional about protecting it as you can be but don’t be come rigid and legalistic about it, which can ruin the spirit of the day.