Sabbath is counter cultural in our setting. I like to start with Sabbath, because if you can practice Sabbath in western culture your life will change. It has to because life as we live it cannot continue at the same pace and include Sabbath.
The tradition of Sabbath has evolved over the years. I have given myself, and would like to give you, permission to define it for yourself. This is a much more individual understanding of Sabbath, but since we don't live within communities that practice it, it may be our only option.
When and how are the first two questions you will need to answer. When? I have chosen Sunday afternoon- Monday afternoon for a 24 hour period of Sabbath. This is because I often preach on Sunday mornings or attend other church events as part of my job, so that would not be Sabbath time for me.
How? What will you stop doing? The verse from Exodus above says to stop doing work. That is one thing I stop doing. I also stop using the computer, watching tv without a purpose, running errands and doing household chores (no bathroom cleaning!). The hardest ones for me are to not make a "to do" list and to not look at my calendar. There is some "work" that I cannot stop- like changing the baby's diapers and feeding my family. The surprise it that stopping is difficult. More about that next week...
What will you do instead? How will you make this time for God? I don't set up a rigid schedule for my day, but I have made a list of options so that when I feel agitated by not doing something I can pick from the list of things that help me to celebrate who God is and how God is present in my life. It includes: pray, go for a walk, yoga, family games, call family and friends to catch up, listen to music, dance, cook and eat together as a family (sometimes with guests), read a novel or devotional book and rest.
As I write this list I am reminded what a gift Sabbath is. And yet it is so hard to receive it.
Try it out and leave comments on how it goes this week. Next Friday will be about why we have such a hard time with this practice.