Tuesday, January 26, 2021

A Sabbatarian Rhythm - Blessing The Weekend

"The Sabbatarian Pattern - six days of work followed by one day of rest, is woven deep into the fabric of the Bible. The very first story in the Bible climaxes on the seventh day, the first time there was a seventh day. Having created everything, God rests and blesses this day and makes it holy. God declares, as fully as possible, just how very good creation is. Resting, God takes pleasure in what He has made; God has no regrets, no need to go on to create an even still better world or creatures more wonderful than the man and woman. In the day of rest, God's free love toward humanity takes form as time shared with them

Later, God teaches the children of Israel to share in the blessing of this day (Exodus 16). After bringing them out of Egyptian slavery and into the wilderness, God sends them manna, commanding them to gather enough each morning for that day's food alone. Mistrusting, they gather more than they need, but it rots. One the sixth day, however, they are told to gather enough for the next two days. Miraculously the extra manna does not rot, and those mistrustful one who go out on the seventh day to find more, find none. God is teaching them, through their own hunger and His provision, to keep the Sabbath, even before Moses receives the commandments on Sinai. 

In these two passages both commandments require the same behavior, work for six days and rest on the seventh, but each gives a different reason. What is wonderful is that each reason arises from a fundamental truth about God's relationship to humanity. 

The Exodus commandment to "remember" the sabbath day, is grounded in the story of creation. The human pattern of six days of work and one of rest follows God's pattern as Creator. God's people are to rest on one day because God did. In both work and rest human beings are in the image of God. At the same time, they are not God by God's creatures, who must honor God by obeying this commandment. 

In Deuteronomy the commandment to "observe" the sabbath day is tied to the experience of a people newly released from bondage. Slaves cannot take a day off, free people can. When they stop work every seventh day, the people will remember that the Lord brought them out of slavery. Sabbath rest is a recurring testimony against the drudgery of slavery.

Together, these two renderings of the Sabbath commandment summarize the most fundamental stories and beliefs of the Hebrew scriptures; creation and exodus, humanity in God's image and a people liberated from captivity. One emphasizes holiness, the other justice"



from Practicing The Faith: A Way of Life For A Searching People

Many years ago when my girls were younger, we began observing a Sabbath day of rest. On this day we abstained from work and from our screens. We did allow for a family movie and often watched one together, and I will admit that if it was football season, my husband definitely watched his favorite team. But for the most part this day was reserved for activities such as going out to dinner or on a picnic, hiking, playing board games and doing fun things together as a family. We also often took time to enjoy individual activities such as reading or crafting, but we still did these things together in the same room. In preparing ahead I also made sure that our meals for the day were made the day before, or I would throw something in the crock pot and let it do the work for me. Most weeks I also baked a special treat for the day. It was a wonderful time, and because we planned ahead for it, it was something we looked forward to each week.

Now that the girls are grown and on their own, I still observe a Sabbath day of rest, but it has become much more personal. Sometimes my husband and I will still go on a hike or maybe to get coffee and spend some time at the local book store, but for the most part we both prefer not to go anywhere on that day and just allow things to unfold. Even traveling in the van this year, we typically tried to plan our week so that at least on at least one day we were stationary and not on the road.

Traditionally in Jewish homes the Sabbath, or Shabbat (Sha-BAHT), begins a few minutes before sundown on Friday evening and lasts through the appearance of three stars on Saturday evening. It is ushered in by the lighting of candles and the reciting of prayers. A lovely tradition that I have observed myself from time to time, and would like to become more intentional in observing again. You can learn more about this beautiful practice, here, as well as the Shabbat prayers, here.

My friend Heather has a practice she likes to call Blessing The Weekend, which is very close to a Sabbath. She sets aside time every Friday afternoon to tidy the house, she prepares meals (or at least has an idea of what she will be making) ahead of time, as well as having a few special baked treats on hand. It is basically just a time for setting the weekend up to flow a little easier so that she can relax and spend time with her family.

Last year I wrote a similar post, but in light of my recent need to re-ground myself and slow the pace of life, I want to be a little more intentional with my sabbath. Even though I've continued to observe it, if I"m honest so much of time I get drawn right back on to my computer and in to social media, when there are better ways that I could be spending that time. That's one of the reasons I was excited to find this bible study, which I plan to begin today, Return To The Sabbath with Sarah Koontz. It's a free, six week, self paced study and I think it might be just the thing I need. I also love the idea of Blessing The Weekend, and find the elements so interchangeable that I plan to incorporate a little of both. Of course living in the van presents some challenges if we happen to be traveling, but typically we always stop to rest on Sunday and it could be that my sabbath might be on a different day, which is perfectly fine! There's really no right or wrong way to observe it, the most important thing is that you take the time to rest. And if you don't want to incorporate the prayers, then Blessing The Weekend might be a rhythm that works better for you!

I had previously made up a form for Blessing The Weekend that I've linked before, but yesterday I made up a little form for planning out a sabbath as well. I'm linking them both below and I hope that you'll be blessed by one or both of them. In the coming days I'm going to be posting some recipes and ideas for non-screen time activites, as well as a few books that you might enjoy during a time of rest that will encourage you in this practice, as well. If you currently observe a sabbath each week I'd love to hear how you plan for it, what rituals are a part of your observance (if any), as well as any other thoughts you might have! Let's encourage one another to be intentional about setting aside time for rest!

"At home, the kitchen was warm with the smell of fresh baked white bread. The room sparkled with cleanliness. The table, which wore only an oilcloth covering all through the week, now had a snowy white tablecloth. On it stood the brass candlesticks, gleaming brightly from the polishing that Ella and Sarah had given them the day before. They were just in time to see Mama saying the prayer over the candles.

The children stood around the table watching her. A lovely feeling of peace and contentment seemed to flow out from Mama to them. First she put a napkin on her head, then placing four white candles in the brass candlesticks, she lit them. She extended her arms to form a circle. One the lighted candles the encircling gesture was repeated. After that Mama covered her eyes with her hands softly murmuring a prayer in Hebrew.

This was Sabbath ushered in."


1 comment:

Katie said...

I so appreciated reading your thoughts on Sabbath, especially about preparing for it! Our family has been practicing Sabbath for about a year but I think some more intentional preparation for the day would be helpful. We found ourselves without a church home right as the pandemic hit, making it a challenging time to visit churches, but we wanted to observe the day so we began practicing Sabbath. It's been one of the best things we've done this year but also challenging to "rest" from our normal work with four young children. Our Sunday's currently look like this: my husband and I trade off the morning hours giving each other some alone time (I like to spend mine outside or at a coffee shop when they're open), and in the afternoon we go for a family hike together. We haven't established a "normal" for the evening time but I think the kids would love to get back to a family movie night. I usually try to have dinner made ahead of time or to put something in the crockpot in the morning. Some weeks I've stayed off of technology for the day and have found it refreshing, clearly I'm not doing that today :)