Sabbath Keeping


Taken near Asheville, NC by Deborah Wickham.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and rested on the seventh day from all the work he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2: 1-3 NRSV)

            After God finishes creating everything on earth and in the heavens, God blesses the seventh day and rests. We call it the Sabbath day, a day of rest. When God rests after creating everything, I always imagined that God took a long nap. Creating everything in the world must be exhausting. Even God must be tired. But as I’ve looked back at this story over the years, I think God does more than take a nap on the Sabbath. I think God goes to check out all of creation. I think God goes to see the fruit growing on the trees. I think God goes to see the horses romping around in the meadow. I think God may have tasted the tomatoes and carrots growing in the ground. I think God revels and enjoys all that has been created. And then maybe God takes a nap too. But I think God enjoys the seventh day and doesn’t just sleep it away.

            The Sabbath day becomes so important that God has Moses write it down as part of the Ten Commandments in Exodus. It is to be observed every week without exception. This is part of God’s way of helping the people set boundaries for their lives. They were enslaved in Egypt and carried a heavy workload. God doesn’t want that for the people. God wants them to take one day off a week to enjoy, rest and spend time with their loved ones. God wants them to have more than just work to fill their days. The Sabbath day is God’s gift to the people. It’s God’s gift to us too.

            During these days, remembering to keep the Sabbath is very important. Our community is opening up and we can do a lot more than before. We can go back to the office. We can do those projects around the house that have waited for us to get to them. We can also see family and go to the beach. We are getting closer to what our normal used to be, and we should remind ourselves to take our day off a week. We need it. God knows that we need it and commanded us to keep one day off a week for ourselves. 

            Our bodies, our minds and our spirits need a day off every week, especially now. We are just starting to wrap our minds around what we’ve been through. We’re just starting to sort things out emotionally. Some of us may be catching up on things around the house and with the people we love. But we need to pace ourselves. We need to give ourselves room to breathe and just be. The last thing we need is to fill our days with lots of things when we need time to process and recover.

            So go on that hike. Call that old friend. Read that book you’ve been trying to get to. Go on vacation. Take a road trip to go see your loved ones. We all need lots of rest and renewal. We all need to recoup some energy and mental space. We all need to pace ourselves as we make another shift. Take a break every week, like we’re supposed to. It goes a long way towards our healing. 

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