Every now and then a new book presses home, usually from a bewilderingly new angle, an old theme in such a way it gets me to thinking. And I was reading such a book when Nancy Beach, a teaching pastor at Willow Creek, gave her inspiring and insightful talk last weekend on Sabbath. Judith Shulevitz, in her new book The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time
, is the book I’m reading and pondering and wondering. She’s not really an observant Jew, but the whole idea of Sabbath fascinates her and she probes and probes and finds all kinds of ideas. A good book.
For the moment, let’s just set aside the important distinction of the Jewish Sabbath, which is about rest from work, and the Christian Sunday or Lord’s Day, which is more about worship and fellowship than rest from work, though it necessarily involves the concept of rest. Ideas get bundled up here, and I see no reason to get overly strict about them, but one thinks of rest and fellowship and worship and family and play and contemplation and doing things for their own enjoyment … of doing things you truly want to do instead of things you have to do … of putting down “work” completely for 24 hours. It’s that “putting down” for a whole 24 hours that makes the Sabbath what it is.
The secret to Sabbath, so it seems to me, or at least one of the secrets, is the habit of setting apart a designated period of time and keeping it no matter what else beckons. And over time how that designated time begins to deepen and grow and lengthen and create memory.
It is unwise to think we’re going to change laws and retreat back to the days when restaurants and shops were closed on Sunday.
But, still, what is your ideal “Sabbath”? What are your thoughts?