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The Simple Joy of Sabbath
Sabbath should be a day when our structures are released and simple joys celebrated.

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Demands on leaders' time and energy don't seem to end. We reason: because there are needs, we are the ones to meet them. That false logic prevents us from following God's command to take a day of rest, and enables us to reject Jesus' invitation: come to me and rest.

What does Sabbath look like? Could you practice it? Can your soul afford not to? Here's a peek into my family's practice of a day of worship and rest. It's not perfect, but it is essential to ministry. (This essay first appeared on my blog, Deep Breathing for the Soul. Come by and visit anytime.)

Fire, fierce and warming, glows in the worn brick fireplace in my family room. The washing machine swishes steady in the background.

Sabbath is over, but glows like an ember in the early darkness of an autumn evening.

Sabbath crept in unannounced at sundown Saturday, as we had dinner with friends at their home. I'd helped those friends by watching their kids for the afternoon (although I adore those kids so it was joy for me to do so). So Sabbath began with a meal around a table with friends. Conversation with kids and adults was peppered with moments of depth, and moments of wiping up spilled Gatorade. After dinner, the dads and kids played Wii bowling. At the kids' bedtime (early) we went home and went to bed. (A key Sabbath practice: just getting enough sleep).

Sunday morning my son had an early meeting with his small group leader, my daughter went to lead her small group in the 3-year old room, and my husband and I went to church. We went in different directions, but all experienced community. Thanks to texting, we kept in touch through the day.

After church I came home and lounged on the couch, reading. My daughter read and napped upstairs. My son sent a text that he was going out to lunch with friends. I read a newspaper article about walking in the woods. So I decided I needed a walk in the woods on this cool but sunny fall afternoon. Milkweed loosed its hold on fluffy contents, ancient pear trees in a meadow held their fruit even though their leaves had already fallen. The blue sky over a patch of prairie made me nostalgic for the covered wagons of my ancestors (even though on that prairie in a suburban forest preserve, I can hear the drone of a plane overhead and the muffled swish of nearby traffic).

I came home, puttered a bit in the garden, simply enjoying the beautiful afternoon. I cannot think of a more perfect sort of day than one I can spend outside (wearing a sweatshirt and down vest and jeans) playing in the garden. I divided perennials, snipped and trimmed a few branches. Breathed in fall air, talked with and listened to Jesus.

Later, I made roasted carrots and parsnips, baked potatoes and pork chops with apples and onions. My daughter and I snacked on the carrots and parsnips, and she took notes on how I make my pork chop recipe. "I'm glad you're a good cook," she said. "I'm glad you're not a picky eater," I replied. "Though those two might be related." We talked about college applications, which led to a conversation on our Myers-Briggs profiles. We got too full from eating all the carrots to even want the dinner, so I left it on the stove until my son came home later.

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Topics:Pursuit of God, Reflection, Renewal, Solitude, Spiritual Disciplines
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Displaying 1–5 of 14 comments

Eve anon

December 23, 2012  7:22pm

The Bible says not to judge each other/ argue over who keeps the sabbath and on which day- Colossians 2 v 16-17, Romans 14 v 5,.... just saying :) Great article, God bless u all and merry christmas from England! Xx

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February 17, 2012  9:49pm

Great article! However, popularity doesn't trump fact. The Sabbath is from Friday evening to Saturday evening. This is not negotiable by any standard. Jesus kept the sabbath even in his death.

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Gladwin Mathews

February 05, 2012  8:33am

While browsing for some information on outreach and evangelism, my eyes caught the attention of your article on 'The simple joy of Sabbath'. I was excited to read as I am a Sabbath keeper. I wanted to know what other blessing could I receive on Sabbath through your article. But I was disappointed with the very fact of your reference that Sabbath is from Saturday sundown to Sunday sundown. I am sorry to say that you have completely missed the point on the observance of Sabbath. I agree with Steph and it is a biblical fact that the Sabbath starts from Friday sundown and ends at Saturday sundown. I do agree about the rest that it brings to us but then again it is a physical as well as spiritual rest to our weary souls. The fourth commandment in Exodus 20:8-11 clearly mention that we are to work six days but the seventh day is the Sabbath because the Lord had blessed it. Thus, we must refrain from doing our daily chores on Sabbath and commune with the Lord by worshiping Him.

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January 26, 2012  10:13pm

What a practical approach to Sabbath. Loved this simple article. On another side, I disagree with Anna. Christ died so that we are released from old laws, and we are now bound only by two laws: that is to love God and to love one another. Therefore, the day of the week on which Sabbath is observed is less important; what matters is that our Sabbath reflects our love for God.

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Judy Moore-Browne

January 26, 2012  7:44am

I really appreciated the difference in which she celebrated, are you telling her how she should celebrate the sabbath? Please remember when Jesus Christ healed the sick it was on the sabbath we are not putting her down with worship you have to develop favor with God He promises us that if we meditate on Scripture, he’ll bless us. Joshua 1:8 says, “Keep this in our minds.

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