My good friend Sara commented on my last post about the Sabbath and finished with a question about what exactly a Sabbath should look like for Christians. I think this is a very good question. We really don’t have many good examples of what this can look like. I feel like many of the examples I have seen have been legalistic – church in the morning, no tv or music in the afternoon, and church again in the evening. Many of these experiences seem somber when the Sabbath is really about joy. The Sabbath should be a day about rediscovering rest and rediscovering joy. But how can we place ourselves in a position to make these discoveries? A few thoughts.
First, anything that you have on a to-do list or a syllabus or anything work-related should NOT be done. This is where I tend to be legalistic. We are not robots – we can not incessantly work. I try to be very intentional about taking care of all my bills, errands, homework, and church stuff before my day of rest, even if this means I have to stay up late a couple nights to accomplish this. When it is the Sabbath, I do not want to think about what I have to get done. Thus, our whole week becomes oriented towards the Sabbath. Second, one does not have to observe the Sabbath on a Sunday or a day of worship. Personally, this is what I enjoy but as we have started an evening service at my church and I preach at that service every week, Sunday no longer seems a plausible Sabbath. Thus, I have tried to re-orient my Sabbath to Saturday, which has gone rather poorly the last couple weeks. Third, do something that makes you relax. For some this may be running or riding bike or hiking. For others it may be sipping hot tea in a La-Z-Boy and reading a novel. Maybe it’s bread making or cooking. Or maybe taking a nap. Find something that helps you relax. Something that helps you enter the joy of life. One side note on relaxation – although television or the internet can help with this at times, I think that after six days of being dictated by email, facebook, the internet, and our favorite tv shows, that we should power down. We should set aside technology as much as we can. I’m never very good at this part. I like to check my email and channel surf or surf the web. But I have found that even after doing this for a number of hours, I do not feel any more relaxed than when I first started. My final thought (for now) about practicing the Sabbath is to do it in community. I am not necessarily saying that a bunch of people observing the Sabbath should lock themselves in one house for the day. What I am saying is that one way we can enter the joys of life is through relationship. Maybe one way of relaxing is spending an afternoon with friends sipping a glass of wine, nibbling on some snacks and chatting with one another. All this is to say, create a space on the Sabbath for both rest and joy. You might be surprised to see how often they come as a pair.