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A young adult told me the other day that maybe we should look at the Sabbath differently. She said, “Instead of saying that the Sabbath is for the Lord and acting as if the rest of the week is for ourselves, maybe we should look at it as if the Sabbath is for humankind and the rest of the week is for our Lord.”

So what does that mean? Well, maybe the Sabbath is a day that gives freedom for all humankind. Walter Brueggemann wrote in his book Sabbath as Resistance, “Those who keep the Sabbath find they are less driven, less coerced, less frantic to meet deadlines, free to be, rather than to do” (42-43). Having a true Sabbath gives us a necessary reality check. It gives us a regular break from trying to prove ourselves to be more than we are to accepting ourselves for who we really are.          

In the youth ministry world, how are our Sabbaths observed? What does it mean that a youth leader/pastor observes a Sabbath—or anybody for that matter? What does your Sabbath look like? Is this the day that you get all your household chores done? Is this the day that you “catch up” on your spiritual disciplines that you missed during the rest of the week? Is this the day you step back and get your balcony view of the ministry that you are involved in? Is this the day that you catch up on your readings? Is this the day that you are to do something? All these questions come down to one hard question: “What is Sabbath?”

In our western culture, it's difficult not look at your phone or email for a 24-hour period, or to think about what needs to be done in the coming week, or to contemplate who needs to be visited. But that is what a Sabbath is. Even though you are not “necessarily” working, you are still enslaved to your daily task. 

Brueggemann uses the example that the Israelites experienced Sabbath when they were freed from Egypt. They did not even have to think about making bricks any longer. There was this freedom. Brueggemann continues and states, “On the Sabbath: You do not have to do more. You do not have to sell more. You do not have to control more. You do not have to know more. You do not have to have your kids in ballet or soccer. You do not have to be younger or more beautiful. You do not have to score more” (40).

The Sabbath. Is this a day in which we do not have to all?


Ken, I have been thinking so much about Sabbath lately so thanks for this. Did God make it a commandment because he knew how hard it would be? I think so. I like the student's observation, but wonder if God also delights in our rest, if it pleases him just as much as our work?

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