Monday, November 22, 2010

A Sabbath Invitation

Almost nine years ago, a friend gave me a book that I have read several times and have given it as gifts even more-- No Ordinary Home by Carol Brazo.  It has been out of print for several years which is a shame but it’s a treasure to those who have it.  Although, I have gleaned much from the book, the most life-changing has to be her thoughts on the Sabbath.  It was the first source, other than the Bible, I had ever read that highlighted the commandment and encouraged families to practically exercise it.  I was fascinated......intrigued and challenged.  I had often wondered what taking a Sabbath rest really meant, what it felt like and looked like in this millenium and thought that surely it didn’t mean to sleep all day-- even though that sounds really good to me at this particular moment.  When I reacquainted myself with the Old Testament Scriptures from Exodus and read that if anyone worked on the Sabbath, they should be put to death, I decided to sit up a bit straighter and pay attention to the print in front of me. 
In His faithfulness, God gives us a vision of obedience and the blessing that accompanies it.  Here’s the picture He gives us through the prophet Isaiah,  “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken.  (Isaiah 58:13-14).  Read it again.  Wow.  Really?  All that?  Why would I deprive myself, my family and NOT observe the Sabbath?    
When I think of rest, I think of words like order, delight, stillness, peace, quiet.  I think of times of lingering, savoring and refreshment.  I have to make room for these seemingly mysterious times in my life because “stillness” rarely just happens in a typical day or week.  Apart from bedtime, rest is elusive, therefore, I have to be intentional in carving out a time for my family to experience true rest.  
For me personally, as a wife and mother, observing the Sabbath has placed a rhythm in my week.  David Maines refers to it as the “rhythm of the sacred”-- and if you haven’t figured it out by now, I am ALL about rhythms and things that are familiar and repetitive.  The simple rhythm: spending 3 days anticipating and preparing for the Sabbath (physcially and spiritually) and then 3 days savoring what He did in our lives on the Sabbath.  Practically, that means by Thursday, I am setting my sights on having the house cleaned, the meal (plus dessert) planned, and our family ready to experience rest together.  By sundown Saturday, practically, my goal is to be finished with weekly tasks or at least be ready to lay them aside-- easier typed than done but absolutely important.  No one ever has all boxes on the Master List check off, but we need to be willing to set the list down and enjoy the freedom freedom in that “putting aside”.  Spiritually, it means I have been anticipating being with Him, resting in Him and praying about what to share with the children after the meal.  Around 6:00 our official Sabbath begins as we sit down to a set tableWe light candles, join hands, sing the Doxology and pray, inviting God’s Presence to fill our home and meet us during our Sabbath rest.  Dessert is always served whether vegetables have been choked down or not.  There should be a lightness and a joy surrounding the meal, therefore, don’t set your expectations too high if your table is surrounded by toddlers.  We are slowly implementing a simple, structured time with the children after dinner.  At this point, it can be as simple as a question like, “How have you seen God at work in you this week?”  I can’t wait for the times as they get older when we can discuss the Scriptures more in-depth and hear about their relationship and interactions with God. 

And that is how our Sabbath begins.

We all miss it when we don't get to have it and the children truly look forward to it.  Julia said the other day, "I just love it on the Sabbath when I have had my bath and am all clean and I can smell dinner in the kitchen.  I just love that feeling."   
In America in 2010, we deprive ourselves of very little................ except rest.  Our families and our own bodies are starving for it.  So give the Sabbath a whirl at your house.  I invite you to try it.  Find freedom in it and take your rest.  You will wonder why you waited so long.  
You will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
So be it.


andrea said...

All stores in Finland were closed after 6:00 on Saturday and all of Sunday.
It forced me for 3 years to observe Sunday as it was meant to be, a day of rest and being with the Lord.
Then this year they changed the law and now the stores are open on Sunday.
I was so sad to see it change and have continued to try and not go to the store(s) on Sunday. It is amazing to see that resting is very rewarding and saving a day to relax doesn't mean the end of the world, in fact it makes it better, much better.
NOW, if I could have the rhythm you seem to have in place with your family, how great that would be! Hopefully one day I can get there, but what a thing to try and strive for! Thank you for your inspiration.

Sarah said...

Chris and I have talked about doing this but have never implemented it. Thanks for putting into my thoughts again :)

Calgaroo said...

I absolutely love your photos..they are gorgeous..