Katie Snipes Lancaster
Scripture: Hebrews 4:9-11
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.
Spiritual Practice: Sabbath
Knowing the way lives are endlessly busy and overscheduled (even now when “normal life” is not open to us), I have at times been tempted to teach a diminished or metaphorical sabbath: find sabbath moments, I’ve said. Find little ways to rest in the presence of God, even if you cannot dedicate a whole day to sabbath rest. But what if we did actually take an entire day for sabbath rest? What if – once a week – we turned off our emails, text messages, constant barrage of items to respond to, and rested. What would immeasurably shift within you if you were immersed in a day of rest?
A Jewish philosopher and teacher of Jewish mysticism, Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote an influential and approachable book called The Sabbath in 1951. In it he says, “Creating [Sabbath] begins with a sense of longing… it is not we who long for a day of rest, but the Sabbath spirit that is lonely and longs for us. We are the mate of the Sabbath, and each week, through our sanctification of the Sabbath, we marry the day. That marriage shapes us: What we are depends on what the Sabbath is to us. The Sabbath does not simply come into being [once a week]; the depth of its experience is created by how we behave on the other six days of the week: they are a pilgrimage to the Sabbath.”
Yes. Practicing sabbath keeping means giving up work one day a week. It’s that simple (and that radical). But, we all need a little inspiration. Here are three books that might be life giving if you want to practice sabbath keeping for one day or for a whole year of Sundays:
● Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now by Walter Brueggeman
● Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time (especially chapters 4 and 5) by Dorothy C. Bass
● Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight by Norman Wirzba
Unhinge us, O God, from the torrent of work.
Unhook us from the unending commitment to industriousness.
Give us rest.
Give us discipline to quit.
Give us a way toward sabbath living.