Day #5 Today We Celebrate!

Sabbath is the only commandment we brag about breaking. (Author unknown.)

Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is traditionally considered 40 days long, even though the time between Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday is actually 47. This is because Sundays are not considered to be part of Lent. Sundays are always considered feast days in Christianity, as they are joyous and celebratory days used to remember the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, especially during Lent, Sundays are to be given over specifically to celebration leading up to the greatest of all celebrations, Easter Sunday, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

I know many of us (myself, included) did not grow up practicing Sabbath. We went to church but Sunday, as a whole, it was just another day for fixing the car, mowing the lawn, and watching football. It was an extra day to catch up on things that didn’t get done during the week.  As I have come to understand and, now practice Sabbath, I have realized that there are rhythms that govern all of creation in order for it to flourish as God intended: the rhythms of the seasons; rhythms of the tides; the rhythm of night and day; the rhythm of work and rest. We too are to live into certain rhythms that are congruent with which were created.

We too are to live into certain rhythms that are congruent with which were created.

This made me think of Jesus when he reiterated that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). In other words, observing Sabbath is not something to which we must slavishly conform, but Sabbath is a gift to our frantic souls and exhausted bodies; a gift that enables us to enjoy God and those we love. Sabbath is a blessing, not a burden.

In a culture of ceaseless busyness, where the busier we are the more important we seem, Jesus showed us another way. Practicing Sabbath has to do with setting aside a day in which we live differently and experience life differently than all the drivenness of our days. Sabbath offers a rhythm of time and a rhythm of celebration that nourishes and moves us in countercultural ways.

Author Wayne Muller laments, “Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something….anything…is better than doing nothing. Because of our desire to succeed, to meet these ever-growing expectations, we do not rest. Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight. Poisoned by this hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest. And…for want of rest, our lives are in danger.”[1] Rest was never meant to be a luxury…it’s a necessity.

Rest was never meant to be a luxury…it’s a necessity.

Our souls, minds, and bodies were never created for unceasing activity. Ignoring such boundaries will take its toll in a variety of ways. We think our tireless efforts are what will make us successful (and, thus, valued), but what they actually do is make us sick. (Trust me on this.)

The literal meaning of Sabbath in Hebrew is “Stop it.  Quit.”  It can also mean… to catch our breath. I love that. There are times when I am barely able to do so. It seems fitting that we should build into our days a rhythm of rest; an intentional pausing that we might delight in God and His goodness.

So, what I said from the start…Sundays in Lent are for celebrating! I think the governing principles might be: rest, delight, eat, sing, family, and enjoy God and His creation.

So, what to do on a Sabbath?

Take a nap. (Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep.)

Sit in a lawn chair and delight in watching the sunset.

Watch your grandkiddos playing in the yard. (Better yet, join them!)

Listen to your favorite music (and dance!)

Share a simple meal with family and friends. Pray a blessing over them.

Linger over coffee.

Turn off your phone. Ignore social media.

Enjoy good conversation.

Play games.

Read Scripture slowly, reflectively, lovingly, attentively, and thoughtfully. “Walk with it” throughout the day.

Call those you love.

Practice ceaseless prayer. (Turning your heart to God all throughout the day.)

Go for a walk or hike.

Enjoy God’s creation. (I enjoy putzing in my garden, not because it is work but because it is delightful to me.)

Be thankful.

I am sure you can think of more!

Life is meant to be much different; fuller, richer, deeper, and slower than it is. Sabbath is a gift to restore your runaway soul.

Reflection questions:

What did you lean into?

What resistance do you anticipate?

Who or what do you need to do to practice Sabbath?

Lenten Practice:

What if this Lent, one of your Lenten practices is to choose to intentionally keep Sundays (or another day) as the Sabbath?

Resources on Sabbath:

Here is the Sabbath resource from the Bible Project that I highly recommended:

My other favorite Sabbath resources are:

“The Rest of God” by Mark Buchanan

“Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest” by Ruth Haley Barton She also wrote the article: “Waking Up to the Gift of Sabbath”

“Sabbath: Restoring the sacred Rhythm of Rest and Delight” by Wayne Mueller

There are A LOT of books on Sabbath. These are my favorites.

[1] Wayne Muller, Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest (New York: Bantam Books, 1999), 1.

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