Remember the Sabbath

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day. Exodus 20:8-11

I worked with a man who was an orthodox Jew. There was an event he was asked to attend that was on a Saturday. He asked me several questions about what he would be required to do because, as orthodox, he was not permitted to work that day. The event was a party, but a direct result of his job. He determined he could attend, but could not make the speech that said what the celebration was for.

At first it seemed overly legalistic. I mean, he could attend, but not help with the preparations. He could have conversation but not make a speech. He couldn’t make the presentation to the award winner. I found his questions tedious and thought it was kind of crazy that handing someone an award as a celebration of their hard work at a party was considered work but attending the party and joining in the celebration for another’s success was okay.

Now, years later, I can see the merit of this practice. The sabbath was so important to him that he went out of his way to make sure he kept it. I treat it cavalierly – like a day made for recovery from Saturday night. An opportunity to sleep in, read books, watch TV, hang out with friends. Not that this is all bad – but I really think God gave us this command to replenish us for the week ahead.

Every living thing needs rest. Plants have a dormant season, some animals hibernate. Cats sleep about 18-20 hours a day. Children, in a growth spurt need more rest than usual. We adults consistently try to perform well with 4-5 hours of sleep. We wear it as a badge of courage, claiming to need only five hours a night to feel fully rested. Question – if you make this claim, I assume that you are only getting this many hours per night and you are still performing well – what would happen if you had eight hours a sleep a night? How well would you perform then? Something to consider.

Anyway, I’m really trying to keep the sabbath. It’s hard because it means it takes some planning. I have to do my laundry on Saturday, and sometimes I’m lazy and just don’t get it done, so I end up having to do it on Sunday. It’s not that I think this a great breech of keeping the Sabbath, but it kind of takes the fun and rest out of it. My goals for Sundays is to keep it simple, keep it light. Go to church, go to lunch, come home, take a nap, do what I want. It makes Sunday one of my favorite days of the week. However, I’m not quite sure what to do to keep it holy.


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