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The Sabbath

28 June, 2008

About fifteen months ago, my husband and I did some reading about the Sabbath. God created the Sabbath, a day of rest, for us and commanded us to keep it because as humans, we need that regular rest. We know, however, that we are not under the old law and <a href=";?we need not keep the Sabbath in the same way the Israelites were commanded to. It is not a legalistic thing for us, but a blessing.

Each Saturday we try to get the house clean in preparation for Sabbath, or “Resting Day” as we call it. At dinner time on Saturday we light a candle and our day of rest begins. We have a special meal and Saturday night is the one night of the week we regularly have dessert. The kids go to bed and Saturday evening is “date night” for my husband and I. Our computers are turned off for Sabbath and we don’t do any housework except for the most basic, necessary tasks (clearing dirty dishes off the table, for example).

We go to Church on a Sunday morning and spend the rest of the day together. We try to do things we enjoy such as meals with friends, a trip to the library, playing board games or going on a picnic. While the house is not always tidy, the day is free from the expectation and, therefore, burden of housework. Our Resting Day continues until the end of dinner on Sunday night, when we blow the candle out and begin preparing for the week ahead.

We have a had Resting Days that have turned out to not be very restful. There have been times when we have chosen to sacrifice half an hour of our Resting Day to complete a household chore that would create more stress or significantly more work if not completed promptly. Sometimes one of us parents will get up early to allow the other to have a lie in, even though getting up early is not restful for the one doing it. As time has gone on, though, we are finding a better balance of what we need at this stage of our life as a family. As we grow into the next stage of life, our needs for our Day of Rest will change, and we will have to be prepared to change our Resting Day along with them. For the moment, this is how our family celebrates a Day of Rest.

Here is a post off my old blog, written 31st January, 2007, on the subject.

I read this article last night and I am going to try to get a copy of the book…

God’s Gift of Rest
By Lynne M. Baab

January 25, 2007 |

When I first started observing the Sabbath 25 years ago, it wasn’t by choice. My husband and I lived in Tel Aviv, Israel, at the time, and everything in our neighborhood—stores, movie theaters, and restaurants—closed from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. At first we struggled to find activities for Friday evenings and Saturdays. But after a few months, we began to enjoy a day with few entertainment options. We read, we walked, we talked. My husband sometimes went bird-watching in the field near our apartment. I wrote long letters. We napped. Sometimes we prayed together leisurely. We simply slowed down. We rested in God’s love and experienced his grace.

Our Sabbaths in Israel became God’s gift to us individually, and enriched our life as a couple. Through Sabbath-keeping, we experienced the truth that God’s love for us isn’t based on what we do. We yearned to keep growing in our ability to receive that unconditional love once we returned to the U.S.

Never did a culture need the Sabbath as ours does today. It pressures us to be productive 24/7. Everything we do has to look good and accomplish something. Nothing encourages us to stop. By contrast, the word “Sabbath” literally means stop, pause, cease, desist.

In the Ten Commandments, the Israelites are commanded to keep the Sabbath day holy, or separate, from the other weekdays. The marker of that holiness is the absence of work. But the Old Testament doesn’t give many specifics about what constitutes work. One of the few clear commands forbids lighting a fire (Exodus 35:3). This mandate assured that daughters, wives, and female servants wouldn’t be expected to cook. All the food had to be cooked before the Sabbath began, and the dishes washed afterwards. The Sabbath granted rest to everyone, even the women who labored the other six days of the week.

In our time, what’s the equivalent of “lighting a fire”? What are those actions that send us into work mode?

When we first returned to the U.S. years ago, I was a part-time student and stay-at-home mom. For me, work consisted of studying, housework, and shopping. For my husband, work involved anything from his paid job as well as house repairs and lawn mowing. We simply didn’t do any of those tasks on Sundays.

Today, turning on my computer, balancing the checkbook, weeding my garden, and cooking put me into work mode. I know some people find gardening and cooking relaxing; those women have a different list of work activities to avoid on the Sabbath.

Some of the “work” from which we need a rest is mental. A woman I know tries to avoid worry on the Sabbath. She considers herself a worrier and feels overwhelmed at the thought of trying not to worry every day. One day a week, however, feels manageable. A day free—or at least mostly free—from worry has been a great gift to her.

My husband and I have received many gifts from our commitment to honor the Sabbath: a day to spend with our children—and each other—without needing to get something done. A day free of multitasking. A day free of striving for perfection and productivity. A day to rest in God’s goodness. Over the years, these gifts have continued to bless us and grant us glorious freedom in Christ.

Lynne M. Baab is an author who lives in Washington. Her most recent book is Sabbath Keeping: Finding Freedom in the Rhythms of Rest (InterVarsity). Adapted from “The Gift of Rest,” which first appeared in the September/October 2005 issue of TODAY’S CHRISTIAN WOMAN.

God’s gift of rest

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