Is the Sabbath best spent as a day of rest, community or worship? And why do the three major Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam each celebrate it on a different day? Is a three day weekend necessary to show respect to all?
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 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 20:8-11 New International Version
The Sabbath part 1 – A Day of Rest
To take the seventh day off every week sounded so easy when I was child. But in my own modern life, it is the one commandment, I break the most. While Saturday and Sunday are days off from school and some places of work, there is always housework to be done. Occasionally, I am able to get caught up enough to take a day off from dishes and laundry and eat leftovers instead of cooking. But it takes planning and dedication to do it every week. On those weeks when I do manage a day off, I am amazed at the energy and sense of renewal I experience. To just sit, listen, breath and relax, that is when I think the Sabbath is important and would like to improve myself and my life by observing it weekly.
But the first order of planning for it is deciding which day to call Holy. Going back to the root of it, Saturday is the obvious choice. One of my few friends is a Seventh-day Adventist, that means that even though she is Christian she holds the seventh day (Saturday) Sacred. She is quite devout and I admire her dedication to her beliefs. Most of all I applaud her abstaining from any activity on Saturday where anyone might have to work for her benefit. No stores, no movies, no restaurants, no carnivals will she attend on the Sabbath. Only church, family or friends will she visit, nor will she eat any cooked food. I also, had a friend who said that in a very Jewish neighborhood, you’ll notice everyone walking on Saturday because they forgo even driving cars on the Sabbath.
How beautiful I think, to spend a day so in touch with the natural and spiritual, to be able to avoid the material, industrial, commercial influences in our lives. It also makes sense for those who wish to cleanse their bodies through fasting, not to go out on your day of rest.
There is a problem, though. I like to think of the Sabbath as a day of rest sleeping in at home, but what about going to church? Next week The Sabbath part 2 – Community Matters