How I Celebrate My Sabbath
Recently, while reading Matthew Sleeth's new book, 24/6, I was challenged and inspired to be more intentional in how I celebrate my Sabbath.
I'm not referring to Sabbath keeping in some sort of negative, legalistic way. Rather, it's about taking a time period each week for personal refreshment, renewal and reconnecting (with God and loved ones.)
For years, when people asked me how I observed the Sabbath, I would say, "I take Mondays off." The problem was, as Eugene Peterson noted so colorfully, "a day off is a bastard Sabbath."
Sundays don't do it for me either -- because it's a major work day. I'm at the church by 6:00 a.m., and normally don't get home until 1:00 p.m., after preaching three times. Preaching three half hour sermons feels as exhausting as digging ditches for eight hours. At then end of that, I'm totally drained.
After prayerful reflection (as a result of reading Sleeth's masterful book) I found a Sabbath pattern that works great for me. My Sabbath is a full day -- approximately 24 hours -- which starts at 1:00 p.m. Sunday and goes through lunch time on Monday.
During this time, I try to keep my calendar free from obligations and responsibilities. Of course, there are occasional exceptions to that (such as a Sunday evening event.) However, I try to guard this time as much as possible, and intentionally refrain from working in it. I don't cut grass, do laundry, go to the hardware store, do counseling, plan ministry activities, write articles, or craft committee agendas.
Instead, I use this time to stop and replenish. Yes, I will pray and read my Bible, but Sabbath keeping is much broader than routine "spiritual" activities. I might go fishing, read a mystery, walk in the woods, go on a drive, watch a western, read poetry, observe nature or take a nap. I might use this time to reconnect with Cathy, jam on the guitar, play a board game with my family, or call my mother.
Then, after lunch on Monday, I tackle the "Honey Do" list, go shopping and do chores around the house (and I might even stop in at the office.)
This works wonderfully for me and I thought I'd pass the practice along, just in case there's another pastor, somewhere, wondering how to discover Sabbath in the midst of busy living..