Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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..


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