Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sabbath Rest

Sundays are designed to be a day of rest in the Christian tradition. The idea was to transfer the biblical concept of Sabbath to the first day of the week, when the church traditionally gathers to celebrate the resurrection of our Leader. (See Exodus 20:8-11, for example.)

But like so many other good intentions in Christendom, this day of rest and worship has become a free day from work to fill with activities and busyness that rival any work day. If "going to church" is still part of your family tradition, you attend before or after a big meal and/or some form of entertainment. (I still believe more people go through movie theaters on the weekend than all the church attenders combined. In my community, fitness centers are a close second.)

Yes, we professional religious people are as much to blame as the religious leaders of Jesus' day who  turned God's intention for Sabbath rest on its ear with rules that, if not followed, condemned you to some sort of religious impunity. We schedule meetings and programs that are supposed to aid you in your spiritual growth, but end up taking you away from family, friends, and time with God. Our intent is to strengthen your relationship with God, but we too often end up distracting you from it.


This past Sunday, Matt Stone, taught on this spiritual practice as part of Legacy Church's series, Shift! I recommend you take a listen if you are wondering how to restore the sacred practice of rest to your resurrection celebration. You can hear the message here.

Monday morning during our staff prayer time, one of the staff reminded us of God's promise to his people if they would just keep the Sabbath as he designed it. Here it is. See if it does not ring true for you today:

"If you watch your step on the Sabbath
   and don't use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
   God's holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing 'business as usual,'
   making money, running here and there—
Then you'll be free to enjoy God!
   Oh, I'll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I'll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob."
   Yes! God says so! (The MSG; Isaiah 58:13-14)

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