We (our church congregation) spent six weeks in May and June on a theological journey through the Bible, and a little history, and discovered what it means to keep a Sabbath Day according to God's design. Sabbath is not something we hear a lot about in the Christian community. It has mainly been relegated to denominations such as Seventh Day Adventists or Seventh Day Baptists, or as a Jewish tradition. What we learned in our journey is that Sabbath is a practice modeled by God in the recording of Creation in Genesis 2:1-3. As beings created in His image, God's people model God. Sabbath is a gift from God where we can pause from work and find rest in Him. The other important thing we came away with from our time of study is that we cannot regulate Sabbath observance and practices for others, thus making it legalistic. Jesus had much to say about man regulating and legalizing practices of the heart in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7). Sabbath practices will look different for each of us. For example, yard work would be tiresome and dreadful work for me, but to my husband it is recreation and relaxation, and even a way in which he spends time connecting with God. Sabbath observance may happen on different days. Being in full-time ministry and working half the day on Sundays, I have practiced Sabbath on Friday for years. In response to our study, our congregation is going to stop scheduling meetings and classes after church on Sundays to free people up to practice Sabbath and spend time with their families.
For me, the thing that has spoken to my heart the most is that of leaning into God to create a rhythm of Sabbath throughout the week. The idea of taking mini Sabbaths each day with an extended Sabbath day once a week fits well with my practice over the years of keeping white space in my calendar. I really connect with the idea of receiving God's gift of Sabbath and pausing my day and my week to connect more with Him and to accept His gifts of rest, love, enjoyment, and refreshment.
We have a practice of ending each series with a Sunday devoted to celebrating what God has done in that series. I led our service that morning and below have included my call to worship that morning.
"Today is a day of celebration.
Over the past 6 weeks we have slowly unwrapped a gift –
A gift that helps us pause and take in the glory and the grace of God.
We are busy people.
We live in a culture that values busy-ness.
There are always things to get done – in our jobs, in our homes, our lists at times seem never ending.
But today is a day that has been set apart by God where we can pause-
We break the rhythm of everyday life.
Let’s practice that right now-
Everyone sit still for a moment, breathe in deeply. Let it out slowly.
We have paused the week,
we have stopped the hurry and the running around, the focus on worries,
The busyness of everyday life.
This morning we have gathered together,
In the tradition of our people,
And we enter into the rhythm God has for us, His people.
We breathe is His love.
We come together to celebrate who God is
And to celebrate who we are in Him.
We come together to worship Him.
We come together to enter into His rhythm.
We offer up to him all that we are.
We offer up to him the heavy loads of busyness, responsibilities, trials and suffering, the hassles of everyday life.
And today we receive from Him the gift-
to pause, to breathe, to celebrate, and to remember who God is and who we are.