Remember the Sabbath Day
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)
Many of us memorized or at least learned The Ten Commandments, including the fourth one, to keep the Sabbath Holy as part of our early Christian education. My Fourth-grade understanding was that this meant going to church and that Kresge’s was closed. Much later in life I came to understand a deeper meaning, sabbath is an expression of God’s love toward us. It is the gift of a day of rest and that we are commanded to enable a day of rest for our families and those who work for us. Jesus acknowledged sabbath is a gift when he said, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27). Much less quoted, and hence less familiar is: “Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people.” (Exodus 31:14). We do not put people to death for breaking Sabbath these days. If we did, it would surely be more deadly than COVID 19. I find if far harder to keep sabbath these days than I once did. My cell phone, laptop and home office enable me to work all of the time. Safer at Home is not safer for the soul if we allow ourselves to work 24/7. I find myself deeply fatigued when I am unable to take to my sabbath rest. I wonder if the death comes minute by minute and hour by hour when I allow the pressure to do more and do better to take precedence over God’s sabbath commandment. It is so very hard to accept this gift of rest. I do know that we are more likely to make career-killing errors when we violate this commandment. In addition to a full day of rest each week, I am trying to take “sabbath snippets” between Zoom calls and other appointments. A sabbath snippet could be a walk around the block, a quick nap or a little recreational reading—anything that can refresh mind, body and spirit. Sabbath is a commandment. Sabbath is gift. Sabbath is a means of sanctification.
“You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, given in order that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. (Exodus 31:13)