At our weekly Commune service last night I offered reflections on keeping the Sabbath. Using a beautiful translation by Everett Fox of the Torah we remembered how, after God looked over the world and declared it “exceedingly good,” God rested on the seventh day. God blessed it and hallowed it, and ceased from all work on it. We then read the commandment: “Remember the Sabbath Day, to hallow it. For six days you are to serve, and to make all your work, but the seventh day is Sabbath for YHWH your God.”
I then asked the community to reflect on how well they’re honoring the Sabbath. I invite you to do the same. Do you take time to simply enjoy the company of your family and friends and take time to rest? Or do you find yourself working, worrying, shopping, or in a vegetative state in front of the TV cursing the Sox (Red or White) for another loss?
One of the loveliest descriptions I’ve read about keeping the Sabbath comes from Abraham Joshua Heschel. He writes in The Sabbath (a truly marvelous work): “The art of keeping the seventh day is the art of painting on the canvas of time the mysterious grandeur of the climax of creation: as He sanctified the seventh day, so shall we. The love of the Sabbath is the love of man for what he and God have in common. Our keeping the Sabbath day is a paraphrase of His sanctification of the seventh day.”
The Sabbath is not something we honor simply to give ourselves an excuse not to do work or to do things we otherwise would not do. The Sabbath is a gift from our Creator – a gift of love whereby we get to take time to intentionally reflect on and enjoy and participate in God’s beautiful creation. Sabbath rest should be blessed rest that leaves us renewed and ready to face the opportunities and challenges presented on every other day of the week. By honoring the Sabbath we honor God. By honoring the Sabbath we participate in the Holy in a way that our regular work does not often afford. So let’s make every effort in the weeks to come to try to develop Sabbath practices that enrich and enliven us.