Sabbath? Who me?

What I am still learning about 1 of the BIG 10…

I really enjoy reading, I find it peaceful and it seems to take some of the stress out of an ordinary day.  The list of books I want to read is long…I have been accumulating the list while in Divinity School.  So far, the books I have chosen are books that I heard about in seminary but didn’t get a chance to read or are by authors I read excerpts from.  I began with NT Wright’s Surprised by Hope.  This is a book that I used in research so I knew just enough about it to know I wanted to read the whole thing.  Wright speaks about a topic that has become very important in my own spiritual walk…creation care and Romans 8.  The book did not disappoint and creation care continues to be an essential part of my walk.  I decided to continue on this same path, but from the perspective of seeing God through what he has made.  I came upon An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor.

There are so many lessons that I have learned from reading this book.  One of the greatest takeaways, though, is the idea of Sabbath.  I know what the Sabbath is.  I have studied the Sabbath.  I even know its importance.  I have studied the Sabbath as a part of creation and as a command from God.  And, there is this:

“Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.” Exodus 20: 9-11

Yep, that’s from the “Big 10″…you know, the Ten Commandments.  We know it.  Many of us memorized it.  We learned it in Sunday School right along with the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer.  There it is…the Sabbath.  In the book, Taylor points out that the Lord blessed and consecrated the day.  It was more than “good” as the other parts of creation were.  This was something extra special.  Now…I knew this.  This is not something new.  What was different is that someone who has served in parish ministry is writing about it.  She wrote about how she never really got it while she served…it wasn’t until she was no longer in parish ministry that she discovered the Sabbath.

I have used every excuse I can come up with to show why I do not honor this commandment…and feel good about my excuses.  I am a minister and I am called to work on Sunday.  I am bi-vocational which means I also work another job that I can’t just take a day off.  There are things to be done around the house.  I have a family.  I…blah, blah blah – you get it.  I have as many excuses for not celebrating the Sabbath as Moses had for not doing what God called him to do.  Several years ago, Dad and I had an ongoing “conversation” about the Sabbath.  He would always tell me that I had to take a Sabbath…so I would ask him how his was going.  Neither of us did really well at it.  I’m still not doing really well at it.

This week, I found myself craving a Sabbath.  I told Wendy I was going to have to take a day and rest.  Not only did God command it, but my body needed it…bad.  I felt myself being snappy with my girls, frustrated at work, and generally angry.  That’s not me.  So – today is my first attempt at taking a Sabbath.  It is Saturday…the day of rest for me.  It has not been easy because there are a million things that need to be done.  I did attend a prayer breakfast at church, which presented an opportunity for worship.  I spent time with a friend on the trails outside…an opportunity to walk in creation and just talk.  I finished the book I was reading…so I could start another.  I even planned out my garden and spent time outside with the dogs in my yard.  I have prayed and I have enjoyed some great coffee.  I must say that although my house needs attention and there are so many things to be done…I am THANKFUL for this Sabbath.  I already know that God is right…but this just confirms it.  That commandment is not to punish me or make me feel guilty…that commandment is for my good – just like all of them are.  

I’m looking forward to the next Sabbath…and hearing God speak…and just resting.  How are you doing on your Sabbath?

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