Not all Christians take a Sabbath. Some do, and some don't. And this is how it should be. In fact, in Romans 14:5, St. Paul instructs the Christians in Rome to refrain from judging one another, whether they keep one day set apart as a Sabbath or not. The apostle tells us to live according to your convictions on this one, and do not look down on those that do differently. But he also says to be fully convinced of your practice, and I am. And here is why:
I didn't start my Christian life taking a day apart for rest, worship and family. But in college the grind of endless chapters and assignments always looming overhead took its toll on me, and I decided to begin taking one day a week set aside to stop, and rest, and pray. I have never gone back. It has been difficult at times, especially at first. It took some trust and some planning to be able to finish in six days what you used to do in seven. But it somehow seemed to work out, just like when you start tithing. And the benefits have never left me.
Here are some of the benefits that a Sabbath day has afforded:
1. A break and escape from a southern California culture bent on busyness, and flashing images and ambition.
2. A space for my soul to reset and be prepared, even energized for the six days ahead.
3. Quality time with my wife, kids and extended family on a weekly basis.
4. Margin for regular art, music and poetry to be developed.
5. A break from the never-ending needs of ministry.
6. A realization that it is grace that builds God kingdom, not my frantic work.
Because I help direct worship on Sundays, that is not my day of rest. I am intentional about entering into the joy of corporate worship as much as I am able while leading, but I still wouldn't describe it as 'rest.' So I take my rest on Fridays. The world doesn't knock on my door as often as on Saturdays. And those that know me try to protect this space for me and my family. It is a well of life for us. I encourage you to consider a day of rest, family, and worship in your week. Not a day of flashing images in front of the TV, but rather a day of quietly getting in touch with God's presence before you launch into the rest of the week. Maybe Sunday would be a good day. Or maybe Saturday. Or maybe this doesn't sound attractive to you at all. Whichever way you choose, be fully convinced :)
Here is a recent poem I wrote on Friday Sabbath:
Tasks surround me, wild beasts biting bits of precious thoughts.
'You may only go if you kill us,' they lie.
But tucked into my vest, I unsheathe Paper and pen.
I cage the beasts inside four clean white corners. They can't escape.
I pack more beasts within, they begin to howl and moan and shake the
four white corners, and I fear they will escape to torment me again.
But the pinks of the sky show that the day is near done. The sun sets.
Not summer stillness. Not evening stillness, but Sabbath stillness.
I fold the four corners up, and I stick it deep in my pocket.
This isn't a day for little beasts.
It is a day for ferocious rest.
Author: Cameron Lemons
Reflections from the pastor