Friday, September 27, 2013

Sabbath?

Last night at school I explored the commandment of remembering the Sabbath, in the Hebrew.  Some people might not find much value in studying Hebrew, but it has enlightened a lot of things for me in scripture.  One of the things is the Sabbath.  God makes it really clear in the original language that we are supposed to remember (in Exodus) or keep (in Deuteronomy) the Sabbath because it keeps it holy OR in another way of looking at the word because the Sabbath is already holy.

I'm a seminary student and I totally own that I give the Sabbath little or no regard.  I do whatever it is that I need to do on that day.  I don't necessarily believe that the Sabbath has to be a particular day of the week, but I have totally abandoned the notion of rest.  I am not keeping/remembering or making anything holy and rest is a laughable concept in my life.

There's a rub here.  Some people would say, well that doesn't really matter because the Sabbath was an Old Testament idea anyway and we're part of the New Testament or the new covenant anyway, so it's inconsequential.  I disagree with that.  I think there is value in taking a day off to remember God.  Practice his presence.  Not do any work.  Heck, I believe not cooking one day a week could be a very good thing.

BUT, how?  How do I do that in my life?  I simply don't have the time.  If I'm not doing some type of work all of my waking hours it won't all get done.  Even with my best focus and my most productive weeks I still now drop balls on a daily basis.

My professor had an insight into this that I appreciated.  The Sabbath isn't really about remembering God, it's about trusting him.  A current doctoral student herself, an adjunct professor, a daughter of an ill father who she cares for and a wife herself, she understands what it means to simply not have the time to do nothing.  Or at least it feels like doing nothing.  I mean really do we feel like sitting around singing hymns and reading our Bibles is gaining us anything when we're living in a world that is pushing us constantly to achieve. We feel like that is doing nothing.  We want to produce.  There are to do list items that need to be checked off, a honey do list that the spouse is nagging me about and somehow I need to write that paper or purchase scout uniforms.  We simply don't have time for this doing nothing crap.

There's the other side of the coin for those of us who struggle to get to church, feel guilty about not going, scream at the kids to get them there or just hate being there because we're restless to get home and get stuff done..  Church feels like one more morning to wake up early and have to be somewhere in the week.  Or it feels like one more part of the rat race we're already on and frankly we want off.  The hamster wheel is spinning too fast and it's easier to meet God in bed with the Sunday paper and a cup of coffee while the kids are watching cartoons.

How in this life do we remember and keep the Sabbath?  What makes it holy?  Are we totally lost in our attempt to set it apart like God asks us too?

I would offer this.  Maybe, maybe it's not about being at a specific place on a specific day.  Maybe it's not about not doing certain things for a 24 hour period.  Maybe the Sabbath is something else entirely.  Maybe it's a trusting and leaning in to God.  It's a release from the pressures of life and an intentional turning over of them for a while.  It's a walking away from the hamster wheel life has us on and it's a pause.

Sometimes I find my Sabbath in making pancakes in the kitchen with my kids on a Saturday.  Something I don't think I have time for, but I stop, I get off the wheel and I lean into relationship.  As I lean back on my creator and trust that the papers will get written, the hours will get logged at work and the house won't really matter if it's not clean.

Other times I find my Sabbath sitting alone pondering my purpose and God's beauty.  And sometimes my Sabbath is in the conversation with a good friend.

God's resting commandment isn't meant to be a burden.  Going to church to worship isn't supposed to be a chore.

The Sabbath is a relief, it's a rest.  Find your way to the rest God has for you.

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