Sunday, June 8, 2008

How Does One Keep the Sabbath?

This is a question that's been rolling around in my head for years.

I'm not one of those Puritanical people who think that there should be no enjoyment on the Sabbath. Nor is this a discussion of the proper day for the Sabbath - actually right now our Sabbath is on Fridays, given that we are living in a Muslim country.

The point of my wondering is how does one really go about using that day to honor God?

We worship on that day, of course. Even though getting to church can sometimes feel like more work than should be done of a Sabbath day!

But isn't there more to the Sabbath (whichever day you honor it) than going to church? Is it enough to go to church and then carry on your merry way, using the day to run errands or do yard work or whatever else needs done?

I'm finding it especially challenging since we've moved to Doha because Friday is Hubby's one and only day off during the week. Yep - it's a one-day weekend for us.

This is forcing me to become more organized and more disciplined. I've set it up so that Thursday is my big cleaning day so that the house is neat and tidy. Hubby finds it difficult to unwind in a messy house and will proceed to do housework if it needs done. Great that he's willing to help out, but I would prefer for him to rest on that day.

I've also started preparing our church clothes on the night before, so there is no rush that morning. We decide what to wear and iron what needs ironed. This has helped tremendously with that morning rush.

I also try to do my grocery shopping on Thursday, so that there is no need to run to the store on Friday. No more running out of milk or bread. I also try to plan ahead so that there is something to eat when we get home from church that just needs heated up. The evening meal is usually something light and easy to prepare - salad or soup, maybe. I'm trying to get to the point where I think ahead enough to prepare the meal the night before, but haven't gotten there yet.

What activities should one pursue on your Sabbath? If I understand Jesus' statement that the Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath, then I think that anything which is restful and glorifying to God is ok. I don't necessarily think everything we do that day needs to be "religious," as one book I read suggested. God created that day for us to rest from our work. That was the original purpose.

Keeping it holy means to set it apart for a sacred purpose. It also means to treat it with respect and reverence. It's too easy to make Sunday just another day, once we've completed the obligatory stop at church. We then feel like we've met the requirements of the day.

But the true requirement of the day is to spend a day in rest and honoring God. Remember that God gave us the Sabbath to rest from our work. Our bodies were not created to live at light speed. We will be much happier and healthier if we follow God's plan.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I am by no means an expert and I am still trying to figure it all out. What do you do differently on the Sabbath? How do you honor God that day?


Karen said...

I have the same questions. I have been reading through the Bible this year and the portions I've finished make it very clear (over and over) that the sabbath is something that should be honored. I wonder if that's one of those things we ignore or make excuses about for our own convenience. I suspect if God said it, then He meant it. But I'm still working on making it work for me. It's nice to know someone else has the same questions.

Mary said...

I guess this is something many of us are trying to figure out. I work in an office five days a week and find myself doing my grocery shopping, cleaning and doing everything but keeping the Sabbath on Sundays. I recently purchased the book Breathe by Keri Wyatt Kent. It's about making space in your life for God, particularly keeping the Sabbath. I'm in the middle of another study at the moment so I haven't started it yet but it came highly recommended.

Hyperactivelu said...

My husband and I have started that talk here recently. We do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING on Sundays. Usually its the day to get things done before Hubbie goes back to work. With kiddos and life....everything gets pushed to Sunday afternoon/evening. I would love to get to the point of, like you said, everything done and prepared for Sundays. Worship. Enjoy family, fellowship and REST!

btw, i think i found you through orgjunkie

TJ said...

I do some "work" on Sundays (when we have Sabbath) but I am trying hard to make it the enjoyable stuff. I enjoy working in the garden, I enjoy hanging clothes on the line, and I try not to make it a "busy" day.

Mylinda said...

After several years of mulling this over and praying about it, this is what I came up with: Sunday/Sabbath, is as you say, "Made for man" not the other way around. When I was a teen, a good friend of mine wasn't even allowed to go to the mall on Sundays. She had to stay home and basically do nothing, keeping it "holy." I thought that funny, but considered this perspective over the years. I finally decided, with the Lord's leading, that Sabbath is my day of rest. I go to church, but whatever else is "restful" to me, I can do. We never do schoolwork on Sundays. I don't do any housework, except maybe a little laundry, if necessary. I make sandwiches for lunch and either a crockpot meal or something simple for dinner, limiting the dishes. I let the kids play with friends a little longer that day and I read, take a nap, or just hang out with the family. My dh agrees, but sometimes does the lawn that day (his choice). I work hard all week (even though I'm at home) and have found that on those rare Sundays that I "must" do work, I feel frustrated at the end of the day that I've "wasted" my rest day. And, I feel like God says to me, "I told you." :-) I sigh and don't do that again for a looong time. lol

I think it's ok to do whatever you deem restful to you. And, meditating on the Lord during that restful time is a bonus. It's a hard balance, but we have to find what works for us. :-)

Laura said...

Hi, I don't remember where I found your blog but I've been reading for awhile. I live in Mozambique and have enjoyed hearing about your transitions (especially the shopping!) I've JUST started thinking more about the Sabbath since I read in Matthew 24 when Jesus is discussing the "signs of the end of the age" as the NIV sub-titles it. He says "pray that your flight will not take place in the winter or on the Sabbath" which kind of stopped me in my tracks. I'm not sure what the implications are but if Jesus puts that much importance on the Sabbath, I know I need to start paying attention! I find it interesting that I read your post the very next day. My faithful God is wanting to get my attention!


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