Commandment #4   Leave a comment

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Exodus 20:8, NIV.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to add to the above verse the verses that follow.  “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.  therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”  Exodus 20:9-11, NIV.

I am not a traditional person.  Those of you who have experienced the way I do ministry can attest to this.  This does not mean tat I dislike tradition or feel that tradition has no place in society or the church.  This merely means that I feel tradition should never interfere with progress.

However, on this particular issue, I really miss the way things used to be.  In the years before my time and into my childhood, Sundays were always a blessed day of rest.  We didn’t observe the entire passage above, but generally speaking we went to church, had a larger-than-normal lunch, and just kind of sat around and enjoyed each others company, played, and/or rested.  then we’d go back to church for the Sunday evening service, go home and to bed.  It was a Sabbath day.  What ever happened to those days?

Now, many people are considered to be fortunate if they have a job that allows them to have Sundays off of work – let alone their place of business being closed on Sundays.  Even Wednesday nights are no longer “church” nights, that formerly protected time during the week that people were supposed to be in church for Bible study and prayer meetings.  Even the school systems no longer leave Wednesdays or Sundays alone on their (mainly) sports schedules.  It’s all gone, taken away by people and institutions that thrive on either busyness or profit, regardless of the effect on our churches.

As a minister, I also struggle with Sabbath.  In some regards you could say that I don’t get one.  It could be reasoned that I work on Sunday myself, helping people in conversations at church, leading the worship services by delivering God’s word that I’ve been quite busy preparing all week.  Afternoons often bring phone calls and occasionally require some visits.  Many time, though, I try to bring back at least a part of my old tradition and get a good nap!

Sabbath is something that has become nearly impossible to exercise in our world today.  That is, from a physical standpoint.  We have things to do, and many people have no choice but to take care of things on Sunday.

However, let me offer you this thought to help in maintaining a spiritual atmosphere of Sabbath.  Devote your Sabbath day to the Lord in spite of whatever busyness you may encounter – even if you have to work.  Allow God’s thoughts to be your thoughts throughout the day.  Devote your day to letting God speak to you beyond the church walls no matter if you go shopping, visiting, working or napping.  God deserves our utmost attention at all times.  The least we can give Him is one day.  We should live our lives like this all of the time, actually, but if thinking Sundays is what helps you get this process started, God will certainly take it!

Guard your time as best as you are able.  If you cannot bring back the old fashioned Sabbath into your life, the least you can do is still commit your day, your mind and your heart to allowing God permission to speak to you all day, and to give you the rest you need, even if it comes in the form of “peace of mind” instead of a nap.

Enjoy your Sabbath day in the Lord.

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