One of the fundamentals of our faith is that we believe God created the world. God created for six days, and on the seventh day, God rested. When the Israelites were in the wilderness, God sent them food to eat, but not on the Sabbath. God tells us over and over and over again how important it is to keep the Sabbath day sacred. So why is it so hard for us to actually do it?
This past Sunday, I worked at my second job at an independent children’s bookstore. I took this job so that I could have fun with children’s books and the people who love them. Perhaps I could rationalize working on a Sunday by saying “it doesn’t feel like work; I love it so.” Nah, that argument won’t work. Vacuuming the rug at the end of the shift reminds me that it’s work.
As hard as we try to get laundry done on Saturday, we invariably end up doing it on Sunday. My husband and daughters go grocery shopping on Sunday. Lately, it’s been getting to me: over and over, we’re breaking a fundamental commandment. Why?
Why is it so hard to NOT work one day per week?
Does the Sabbath have to be on Sunday? Can it be Saturday? or Monday? or some other day?
What did my parents teach me about the Sabbath?
How can I fix this?
Growing up, my parents (read: Mom) had lots of rules about chores. We did chores every day, but Sunday was different. With my dad working every Sunday, I never really thought about it being a day of rest, even though there was usually lots of resting after church. My parents never said, “now kids, it’s the Sabbath, so we don’t work on this day. We rest, like God did.” They led by example, and expected us to get the unspoken messages they often sent. I think it’s safe to say I missed the message.
Does the Sabbath have to be on a Sunday? I don’t have any pithy, theoretical texts to back this up, but I believe that the main concept is to take time for rest for every few days that you work. For some of us, that’s Monday, or Wednesday. I sure wouldn’t want to go to the emergency room and be told, “sorry, it’s the Sabbath, we can’t help you.” With so many faith traditions living communally, it wouldn’t be fair for us to say “Sunday is the Sabbath; everyone else get on board.” I’ve noticed that Saturday is a day that we are least inclined to want to work. We end up feeling guilty about that, and then feel even guiltier when we work on Sunday. Perhaps it’s time to change our mindset about our Sabbath day.
Why is it so hard not to work?
Those dots represent the kronos and kairos time that has elapsed since I typed that question.
Many of us were taught that our worth comes from our work. Not working brings up all sorts of feelings of guilt for me. Too much work means I don’t take good care of myself, and that’s not a great example for my girls. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to better model good self-care so that my girls understand how critically important it is for their overall physical and mental health. Keeping the Sabbath is self-care as we honor and respect the God in us.
I’m determined to get better about keeping the Sabbath. The new school year seems like a great time to realign our week so that we can move closer to truly keeping the Sabbath holy. Here are some ideas from a Forward Movement pamphlet called Keeping Sabbath by The Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper that we plan to try:
- If you have two “free” days a week, designate one for errands and personal maintenance, and the other for spiritual leisure. This spiritual leisure could be tennis, yoga, or walking, or it could be sitting, reading, or mindlessly watching TV.
- Custom design your Sabbath practice to fit your job, your family, and your commute. For example, you might even keep Sabbath on your commute. Rest, pray, or listen to music.
- Ritualize your life. Do email at set times in the morning or afternoon—or when you decide—and live free of it the rest of the day. Tell people what you are doing: “You can expect an answer after 4:30.”
If all else fails, find a way to pray:
O God, I know I am worth the time you have given me. Let me savor the great gift of Sabbath and find the paths to peace and grace, even if just for a minute. Amen.
How do you practice keeping Sabbath? What ideas can you share?
I have enjoyed reading the responses from the past years and find myself agreeing with most of them. As a Christian contemplating observing the Sabbath it is important to read what Scripture tells us regarding it, and not just New Covenant Scripture. You should also ask yourself some questions such as, Why do I not see anywhere that Jesus say’s not to observe the Sabbath, but modern Christianity say’s the opposite in most cases?, and, Can I keep the Sabbath on Saturday and not be Jewish? Of course there are many other questions that arise, but I believe several of them have been answered in previous posts. God Bless and Shalom
Cyd Olson says
It is easy to know what day the Sabbath is. In the Hebrew calendar, the only day with a name is Saturday or Shabbat. The other days are named 1st day, 2nd day, 3rd day etc.
I can pretend that Monday is my Saturday (Shabbat) or I can pretend I am a man when I am a woman etc. It is clear what day Saturday is (Shabbat) and that is when God wants us to rest. Based on the Hebrew calendar.
It is always good to seek and do what God has commanded us to do (our efforts/intent are key in doing so).
However, the most important things to remember and ask ourselves when seeking God’s will are
1) Are we really seeking the Truth?
2) Where does that Truth come from?
Remember that God’s Word is the Truth, and if that is the case, we need to let the scriptures speak for itself. If God is His Word, then that should be enough.
Sabbath Commands From Bible Scriptures……………………………….
The laws of God are perfect.
Do not add or take away from God’s commands commandments
Can it be any day? No
Established at creation
God blessed the 7th Day & sanctified it, set apart.
It is One of Ten Commandments
Sign between God & His people
Only for Jews? No
Who is Isreal?????? There is the land of Isreal, and there is God’s people.
Ephesians 2:11-13, 19
For all nations
It is a gift to us.
God blesses those who keep Sabbath
It will be kept in the new creation
Commanded to remember & keep it Holy
To forget is a punishment
Jesus, Paul, & Gentile converts kept the Sabbath.
Acts 17:2, 18:4
Act 20:7, not changing ,
they gathered daily to break bread.
Never stop keeping it
False priest do not keep the Sabbath
Who Changed the Sabbath Day?
Catholic Convert Katokism
States Saturday is the true Sabbath.
Also says Council of Laodicea AD 336 changed it.
Cannon 29 Council of Laodicea.
Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.
Protestants inherited it and other traditions upon the reformation split.
The Sabbath is and always has been the 7th day of the week, Saturday. It is a memorial of creation and is not based on astronomy. Lunar sabbath is an error, so is Sunday sabbath.
If you do your research- the sabbath is on Saturday. Constantine and the Vatican changed it to Sunday to appease the Pagans they wanted coming to church. Another way the Vatican has tried to change Gods words and laws of times. If you want to celebrate the sabbath- it’s Saturday.
Exactly the sabbath by law is Saturday, Satan was working in the mist to get more Christians to stop keeping the sabbath as Christ did by urging them to change the sabbath
Correct. I’m just worried I’m not keeping it because I work every other Saturday.
Graham Darwin says
hi. The true Sabbath is simplicity. Genesis 1:14 tells us how to calculate it. The true Sabbath varies its’ day on a month to month basis without strict accordance to the Julian and Gregorian calendars. (mans’ law). Matthew 15:… (9)… . scripture tells us that the Sabbath should not be grievous to us, Christ clarifies that which may be acceptable as righteous on the Sabbath For those who believe that the Sabbath was only for the Israelites during the time of Exodus, Please read Isaiah 66:23,24. Also Mark 2: 27,28.
Mark 2:28 + John 10: 30 = Revelation 22:13,14. Don’t be deceived. Joshua 24:15.
Incidentally, if you are reading some “watered down” version of scripture like the NIV for example, you will be unable to grasp the full portent of this missive. Hope this helps.
I work seven days a week. I have two fulltime jobs and a family to support. I don’t have a lot of freedom to choose my sabbath. The closest I come to a sabbath is the half-day I work on Sunday. I feel guilty about it, but I’m stuck with the arrangement for now. Perhaps I should concentrate on making the other half of the day more meaningful (or “meaningless”.)
Agreed, Bob. In the pamphlet I referenced, Dr. Schaper talks about carving out an hour or two each day or some days per week.
Nurya Love Parish says
I am so glad you wrote this. I think it is one of the most challenging areas of Christian practice. I know I struggle with sabbath on a weekly basis, but I haven’t been brave enough to admit it in public. I wish I had better answers but I am really glad to be with you on the journey.
Thanks for creating this forum to share thoughts, ideas and struggles. We’re all in this together, thank God!