At lunch the other day my friend said she had been thinking a lot about the Sabbath. It is one of the Ten Commandments, but we don’t seem nearly as concerned about keeping it as the other big ones, like lying, stealing, and adultery. But apparently it’s on “The List” and God must think it’s really important.
At first when she asked, I began to feel shame because I didn’t think that I was that good a “keeping the Sabbath.” In my mind I picture the traditional Jewish Sabbath where no work is allowed. For some they don’t even turn on the lights because it’s work. For other Jews, it means preparing all the food the day before, so you don’t have to do any prep on the actual Sabbath. You don’t work, but you don’t allow or cause anyone else to work either. Not exactly sure how this relates to dishes after the Sabbath meal, but I’m sure they have a way.
So when I thought of keeping the Sabbath, I didn’t think I did because I wasn’t that strict about it. But as we talked, I realized that there are a lot of things I intentionally do on Sunday in observation of a day of rest.
I heard a female Bible teacher once talk about a day of rest as taking a break from the things that feel like work to you. As I thought about that for me, I realized that writing a blog or gardening wasn’t work to me. It was a welcome departure from my normal routine. Doing laundry and menu planning/meal prep however do feel like work for me. I often (not always) do extra loads of laundry on Saturday and give myself permission not to touch it on Sunday. My other friend said that she could sit and fold laundry because it didn’t feel like work to her. We also make pizza every Sunday night from a Chef Boyardee box. Ready in 30 minutes, everyone loves it, and we eat on paper plates in the living room. No stress over menu planning and everyone helps make the pizza.
We also typically (not always) don’t let the kids have friends over. It’s our relax day as a family. Last week my husband commented in the car that we were going to finish the House Blessing (Saturday weekly chores) when we got home. I quietly said that wasn’t going to happen. Barking at kids to do chores is not my idea of rest. Instead everyone just putzed around the house and did their own thing. On Monday, Joanne Kraft on Focus on the Family said that we have to teach our kids how to relax. That’s what Sundays are for at our house.
We face complications like many families do. Connor was on a travel baseball team that practiced and often played on Sundays. Last year we didn’t go to church or played divide and conquer with some going and some not. By the end of the season, we discovered we didn’t like it and made adjustments for this spring. Hopefully we can make going to church every weekend more of a priority.
But this is what I love about the gospel…it brings freedom. The Sabbath might look differently at your house. Your Sabbath might be making Wednesday night family game night. But because of the cross, we are free to listen to what the Holy Spirit prompts us to do or not do with our families on Sabbath. The important thing is to obey when the Spirit prompts us. It’s not about creating more rules that make us feel guilty when we break them. The goal is to rest and reflect on the work God has done and is doing in your life.
As I listened to my friend’s question, my first thought was that I was guilty of not keeping the Sabbath because it didn’t look like the way other people do it. But as the Holy Spirit brought to mind the truth of what I have intentional done, it was acceptable to him. I was covered by grace even though I don’t perfectly keep the Sabbath or even follow all of the rules I have made for myself. The choice is to accept the grace he freely offers or take my guilt on myself and try harder and do more…or less on the Sabbath.
What do you do to observe the Sabbath? I’d love to hear some ideas of how it looks at your house.