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Making a Case for Sabbath

I didn’t have a very grace filled model of Sabbath when I was growing up. If you were a church kid who grew up in the 60’s or 70’s this may sound familiar.

I went to bed Saturday night with pink foam curlers in my hair. I awoke Sunday morning to a frantic mother trying to round us up to make sure we weren’t late for Sunday school… again. We walked to church with our zippered Bibles and Sunday school quarterlies.

For lunch my family sat down to a pot roast dinner served on the good china, after which I was invited (the nicest word I could find to describe it) to spend the afternoon in my room napping or reading my Sunday school paper until we went back to church at night. Now this, at my age sounds like a dream come true, BUT as a kid, not so much.

It didn’t take me long, after doing a bit of research on the Sabbath to discern that my parents, bless their hearts, had the concept of Sabbath all wrong. I don’t blame them of course; they were simply parenting us the way they were parented.

You won’t be surprised that I can’t, in this five-minute read, convince you why you need to take this Sabbath stuff seriously, but maybe a few suggestions from a couple of heavy hitters might help.

Eugene Peterson says, “I think the decision to incorporate Sabbath into my life was the single most important decision I ever made. It made more of a difference in my walk with God, my marriage, my family life and leading my congregation than anything else I’ve done.” He went on to say, “If you don’t take a Sabbath something is wrong, you’re doing too much. You’re being too much in charge. You’ve got to quit one day a week and watch what God does when you’re not doing anything.”

Matthew Sleeth in his fantastic book 24/6 writes, “subtracting a day of rest each week will have a profound effect on our lives. How could it not? One day a week adds up. 52 days a year times an average life span is equal to more than 11 years, take away 11 years of anything in a lifetime and there will be a change. A massive change.” Then he asks this question, “do you think it’s just coincidence that the commandment about the Sabbath is only one of the Ten Commandments that begins with the word Remember?”

Wayne Muller writes, “If we do not allow for a rhythm of rest in our overly busy lives, illness becomes our Sabbath - our pneumonia, our cancer, our heart attack create Sabbath for us. And then Sabbath is not something that we choose but something that chooses us.”

Walter Brueggemann says, “Sabbath is not simply the pause that refreshes. It is the pause that transforms. Sabbath is an invitation to receptivity, an acknowledgment that what is needed is given and need not be seized.”

Mark Buchannan suggests, “We reward the hustle, we’ve been caught in the spiral of urgent activism. He says we, go, go, go crash. What if we decided to go, go, go stop?”

Still not sure Sabbath is for you? In a recent webinar conducted by Pastoral Care Canada, Mark Buchannan came up with 32 markers that he believes describe soul weariness.

Here’s 10 for you to consider.

1. My intimacy with God and others is diminishing.

2. I’m growing cynical.

3. My imagination runs too quickly to worst case scenario’s.

4. I feel deeply unappreciated.

5. I think about retirement decades before it’s feasible.

6. I don’t laugh very often and when I do it’s seldom robust.

7. I procrastinate and then panic.

8. I am impatient over minor delays or inconveniences.

9. I’m experiencing free floating resentment, anger, anxiety, and self pity.

10. My health, emotional or physical and or mental feels fragile.

Did any of the above quotes make you pause? Did any of the symptoms Mark complied describe how you’re feeling? If the answer is yes, friend, you need to consider incorporating the gift of Sabbath into your life. It may be exactly what your soul has been aching for.

Here are three books to get you started, Mark Buchannan The Rest of God, Dr. Matthew Sleeth 24/6, Pete Scazzero The Emotionally Healthy Leader.

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