I’ve thoroughly been enjoying Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, An Altar in the World. Here are a few of her thoughts on Sabbath:
“Busy is how our culture measures worth” (p. 123). Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something….anything…is better than doing nothing. For so much of our worth is tied up in what we do. To this she adds, “Your worth has already been established, even when you are not working. The purpose of the commandment is to woo you to that same truth” (p. 139).
The literal meaning of Sabbath in the Hebrew is “Stop it. Quit.” It can also mean… to catch our breath. I like that.
Unfortunately, most of us could nod in agreement with Job in 3:26: “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest but only turmoil.”
I think it is about an attitude and a heart…an orientation of the soul, if you will… that desires to enter into the rhythms for which we were created. It’s an awareness that only in keeping with these rhythms can we truly flourish.
It has to do with setting aside a day (even moments) in which we live differently and we experience life differently. It means being set apart as people and setting apart time in a way that makes it different.
Menuha is the Hebrew word for rest, but it is better translated as joyous repose, tranquility, or delight…God didn’t rest in the sense of taking a nap or chilling out; instead, God celebrated and delighted in his creation.
It seems fitting that we should build into our days is a rhythm of rest, an intentional pausing that we might delight in God. Contrasted against the sorrows, struggles and pain of the other six days it stands out as “holy.” Holy simply means set aside; not lost in the sea of everything else. Sabbath is set apart, distinct, from the regular patterns and habits of our week to celebrate and embrace God and the abundant life God offers.