The Practices of Jesus:
The Practice of Sabbath
‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ According to the aphorism, if all you do is work you become both bored and boring. Few of us would work at our formal job every day of the week, every week. Almost all of us have at least one day off from work. But our weekly day(s) off can easily become a blend of work and rest. We have work to do outside of ‘work.’ Mothers with little kids in their home rarely get a full day of rest. Some people take on jobs on the side. There are house renovations. There are errands. There are all the kid’s extra-curricular activities. If you are a driven person, then every day might become ceaseless labor – making life dull.
In the book of Genesis God creates the universe in six days. On the seventh day ‘he rested’ (Genesis 2:2). The Hebrew word for ‘rest’ is ‘Shabbat’ from where we get the English word ‘Sabbath.’ Sabbath means rest. The same word is also used in the bible to speak of a day of celebration. For the Hebrews, Sabbath days were days of rest and celebration where they followed God’s rhythm from the beginning of time. Work, then rest. Then work from a place of rest.
A Sabbath day is a day dedicated to resting and celebrating in God. Taking a weekly Sabbath reminds us that God creates us, saves us, provides for us, and works for us – so we can cease creating, saving, providing, and working. On the Sabbath we can lay aside our responsibilities and our worries and just enjoy all that God has given. It’s strange to think of the Sabbath as a spiritual discipline – on the Sabbath we are discipling ourselves to not be disciplined!
We Sabbath because God sabbathed, because his people have always sabbathed, because Jesus sabbathed, and because……why wouldn’t we?
Before you begin the practice with your family and support group, listen to this sermon to understand more about why this Sabbath is so important and discover what it can do in your life.
The idea of Sabbath is to rest and enjoy. This means the Sabbath looks different for different people. We rest and enjoy differently. Some of us like to sleep more. Others rest in play, or exercise. Some people rest in reading. For others reading is hard work. Some of us rest around people. Others need more alone time.
Carve out a Sabbath day that will mean rest and enjoyment for you. Plan it out beforehand and then go for it. Do your best to keep your Sabbath day free of errands.
As with all Jesus’ practices, Sabbath is meant to be a communal rhythm. If you can take Sunday as your Sabbath that’s a bonus because it means you can celebrate in the morning with your church family. Later in the day you might have a special meal with your family. Try to make preparations the day before so you don’t have to work hard on your Sabbath doing meal prep. Get the rest of the family involved in helping out so everyone gets a break.
The night before Sabbath, bring out a little box. Put everything into the box you don’t want to take into Sabbath – cell phones, homework, credit cards, work projects. Pray together to receive the gift of Sabbath.
Dedicate your Sabbath day to God. Connect with him during the day in ways that are restful. Thank him, read the bible, journal, talk with friends and family about your walk with Jesus – connect with God in the way that works for you.