Happy Holy Days

The fourth commandment is that one about the Sabbath day. "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work." (NRSV) Now you notice it doesn't say the Sabbath is Sunday. The key here is to have a Sabbath.

But what is a Sabbath? A Sabbath is a day of rest and worship. So how do we remember the Sabbath and keep it holy? Do we lie in bed all day? We don't think that's quite what the intent is here.

Keeping the Sabbath holy is made a lot easier by going to worship. It helps to put your week in balance. It puts the world in perspective. A good sermon can give your family something to talk about during the week. It really doesn't matter what church or denomination you are a part of; what matters to God is that you take time out of your busy schedule to be in communication with him and the corporate people of faith.

What is worship? It's more than putting on a good show for God. It's more than dressing up and sitting in your pew, making your weekly appearance so everyone knows you're there. Showing up is not for those other people; it's for you. It's a way for you to encounter God in the supportive presence of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Did you get that? Encounter with God, not just performance for God.

We have heard people say that what really gets them in touch with God is being close to nature, hugging a tree, planting a flower, listening to a bird sing. Ahhhhhhh. To some that is Sabbath. But that's something that happens after worship, not instead of worship.

For some, a sporting event is a substitute for worship. Sure, it might inspire prayer when the ball is near the end zone, but it's not the kind of centering oneself on God that is required in the true meaning of Sabbath. For some, shopping becomes a Sabbath chore, a substitute for worship in a schedule that is viewed as too packed to spare the time anywhere else. Our need to shop on the Sabbath denies the store employees the right to honor their Sabbath and keep it holy.

Can we make Sabbath a verb? Give it a real sense of action, something we do, not just something we observe. It's not something demanded every day, only one in seven. It's not asking too much, and it can make all the difference in the world to you. God does know what's best for us when he lays down the law.

So, have you Sabbathed this week? Why not give it a try? And then, next week, and the week after, and so on, and so on