After we moved to Boulder, I joined a Thursday morning Bible Study. You guys, it is so much fun. There are ladies from many different churches and all walks of life. I especially love sharing our answers to the weekly homework in our small group, which includes women at every age and stage of life.
We've been studying the Old Testament prophets these last few weeks and one of the topics that we come back to time and again is the importance of keeping the Sabbath. It was one of the 10 commandments, God's most important instructions about how to live.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. from Exodus 20
God rested and so we should rest, take one total day off from work during the week. The Old Testament lists hundreds of ways this should be specifically observed, from what to do with your livestock to how to feed your family.
As a Christian, looking at the New Testament, the language is frequently about grace for our sin and freedom from the law because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. But even though we have freedom from the law, the other nine commandments still apply - no murdering, no stealing, honor your parents, etc. So it stands to reason that the Sabbath is still a principle that we should still seek to honor in our lives.
But how do you take one day off from work when your job is changing diapers, preparing meals, cleaning the kitchen and bathing the babies. This is what my house looked like after a 45 minute playdate last week:
If I stop doing my job there is diaper rash and a hungry (read: grumpy) toddler and a puzzle/board book/race car land mine in my living room. What does Sabbath look like when my little ones are so helpless?
Our new neighbors are devout Jews. They observe the Sabbath by following some important rules set in their community, including not using technology or answering their phones on Shabbat, not driving a car to get anywhere, and, one I find super interesting, not being creative (ie: crafts, writing, etc.) but instead enjoying creation "as is". It's been challenging for me to watch their lives, to overhear their sweet Saturday afternoon family time spent in the grass behind our apartment, to realize that our family hasn't prioritized God's good gift of rest.
I told Chris that I wished there were Christian rules for observing Sabbath in 2015. I do so much better with rules. Grace can be confusing.
We talked about this in our small group Bible study a couple Thursdays ago. After many of us talked about the ways we had tried and failed to make a God-honoring day of rest a part of our family life, one of the ladies, sweet Dee, gently interjected that she'd always thought of Sabbath as having three main components - worship, rest, and fellowship.
A litmus test for the age of grace. If it's not worshipful, restful or contributing to fellowship, it's not a Sabbath activity.
Dee went on to remind us that one important exception is helping your neighbor. "After all," she added. "When do people move? The weekend. And they need you to carry their boxes and make them some cookies." Too true, sweet Dee, too true.
In Matthew 12, Jesus said
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
We tried to keep Sabbath yesterday.
We lingered in bed in the morning. We shared a meal with friends. We worshipped together with our church. We didn't turn on the TV. And God gave us the chance to do good, to help a neighbor start their car and get directions to Babies R Us.
I still changed diapers and gave baths and picked up toys. But our fellowship, our life together as a family relies on these things at the moment. It won't always be like this.
I decided that I can keep Sabbath in my heart while caring for my family. These are good things. And Jesus said it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
Our neighbors call it to friends from their temple. It means peaceful Sabbath. Literally it means "May you have peace as you stop."
Instead, have peace. Peace in worship. Peace in rest. Peace in fellowship.