Practicing Sabbath : Posture [Part Three]
Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Today we are talking Sabbath posture. May I first take a moment to express gratitude to you? Whereas a life of changing diapers, cleaning messes, and making animal noises is a privilege, I find great delight in having a little corner of the internet to think deeply and type in flowery language. I know I could have summed this series up into just a few sentences, but it has been so refreshing for me to expand and express thoughts. So thank you for being here. Today I want to complete this series talking about the posture of Sabbath in giving you some practicals. At the end I will list a slew of podcasts, books, and names that will help you dive in deeper for yourself. (If you are just joining, this is a 3 part series meant to build upon one another so it may be helpful for you to go back and read from the beginning) To summarize very broadly, the original Hebrew imagery of Sabbath has a lot to do with the life a slave and the celebration of liberation. Jews came to understand that in the waiting for a Messiah, they were forced to live in darkness and striving. Yet once a week, they celebrated (by faith) a taste of freedom; a glimpse of eternity. A time to laugh, and eat, and talk, and rest, and be restored from the toils of the world. So for generations, this was the posture of Sabbath for children of God. The posture was about once a week, remembering that we won't be slaves forever. That we are set apart as God's children. One day we will be liberated. Every Friday night at sundown, families would "stop" or "shabbat". They would step out of the slavery narrative of their week, and be reunited with the God of Sabbath who dines and delights. For 24 hours as a family in their homes, and as The Family of God in their synagogues, they would stop the striving, and buying, and doing, and cooking, and cleaning.... because for this window of time called "The Sabbath", everything was taken care of for them. They could be creative and content and worry free. Then Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew, steps onto the scene and on Sabbath Saturday, in the synagogue pronounces to the world that He has come to bring LIBERATION and set the captives free. He is the "Lord of the Sabbath". Fast forward in His ministry and He completes his work, stopping sin through death on a cross, on Friday. His body rests on the traditional Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) and then on Sunday morning He is resurrected, and with this miracle, He brings to us a new way of life.
We no longer have to live a life of slavery, waiting for one day a week where we can enjoy the fullness of God. Jesus fulfilled and expanded the Sabbath! Because of Jesus we can live every moment as "Sabbath People". Those who have hearts that stop and bask with and in the goodness of God. Sabbath is not a day, but a posture. A life reigning in rest; content and contending at the same time. So if it's not about a "day" any more, then is a specific "Sabbath time" still necessary? My vote: YES! More than ever. But not to escape exhaustion but to celebrate communion!
If you rememember part one one of my series I described how I felt the Lord had me in a “Sabbath Scene” and I couldn’t get up. Now I realize that’s the happy holy reality. Because of Jesus we don’t have to leave the sabbath! Nothing and nobody is forcing us out. We get to honor the sabbath in a whole new way.
We see this pattern in scripture of the Lord carving out "holy places" (Sabbath Scenes as I call them... places of safety) and "holy pauses" (Selah moments in scripture) to stop and see in fullness the goodness and glory of God.
He gives us a strong castle to hunker down in during war.
He gives us a shadow to shade us from the burnings of this world.
He gives us a table to feast at in the middle of rejection and mockery.
He gives us a land of promise designed to provide a culture we can thrive in.
The list goes on and on. We see this constant theme of scripture of God creating a space to nourish, communion, enjoy, and thrive with His people. If we have the power to say no to sin, we have the power to say YES to His presence. I say it respecfully, but church is not Sabbath. Gathering once a week to worship with believers is wonderful and holy, but Sabbath is about stopping In a holy place and pause. Sabbath is about creating a culture in your heart and home to enjoy what God has given you:
There are a lot of "rules" in traditional Sabbath. As I first dove into this that was my biggest hangup. The "when" and "where" and "how". I knew the Lord was drawing me into this Sabbath Life and Sabbath Scene, but I didn't know how closely it was suppose to look like the traditional Sabbath we see in Hebrew scripture. Jesus reminded me of the passage where He got reprimanded for healing and harvesting on the Sabbath. The Jews had gotten so caught up on the "rules" of Sabbath that they missed out the heart posture.... friendship. In friendship you are loyal to show up, even when it's inconvenient.
The thing about Sabbath that I love, as Heschel states, "Sabbath is created to inconvenience you. You don't weave Sabbath into your life. You design your life around Sabbath." For me I've found that Sabbath is not just one day that I honor (although there is a specific time as a family we have set apart). Every morning I Sabbath. Every morning I close my eyes, and go to my "Sabbath Scene" and rest and let Him restore my soul. I train my brain, my body, my spirit to be still, to listen, to watch, to learn. It is not convenient, but it is a place of satisfaction. This is the posture of privilege we get! I have read and researched so much on this. So many Sabbaths look different:
One family I know has chosen Friday evening alone. They light a candle at sundown like a traditional sabbath, they eat, turn off technology, and enjoy each other.
I had a college roommate who felt Sabbath for her meant no schoolwork. So she would work extra all day Saturday so that all day Sunday she could "Sabbath". She would go to church, eat with friends, catch up on shows. But no school work.
One couple I know, they do Sabbath mornings. Once a week, usually Saturday, they sleep in, and have a big breakfast, and then take a prayer walk together.
For many Christians, Sundays are their Sabbaths. They go to church, eat with family, take naps, and enjoy being "filled up" before another busy week begins. This is wonderful if you can still carve out rest and personal time with the Lord after a Sunday service, but for many of us in "ministry" Sundays are more work days than rest days.
I read about a young busy family who felt the Lord lead them to a "Seasonal Sabbath". One time every four months they carve out a Friday-Saturday to "Sabbath Big" as they say. They have everything planned and purchased for food and treats, they turn off technology, they have slow mornings with family Bible readings, and intentionally teach their children how to lean into the art of Spirit-Led solitude. (Aka, they dive into that Sabbath scene, lay on their backs and look up).
I know a group of college students who feel they are family in this season, so they have "Sabbath Afternoons". They have personal sabbaths in the mornings and then rotate apartments/homes to gather for afternoon coffee and tea to talk about what the Lord has been showing them.
Whether it's a little or a lot, I find the beauty of Sabbath is that the "Scene is always open". He is always beaconing us to come and lie and learn with Him as we rest and look up. The legalism is gone! It's okay for Sabbath to look differently. However, whatever you set for your Sabbath, remember it's meant to be inconvenient. Wrap your world around it and prepare and protect it! Honor those boundaries they Lord has given you personally. Whether He sets in your heart a daily 15 min sabbath every evening, or a traditional 24 hour sabbath weekly, or a seasonal time. Remember, this is not a vacation, getaway or playdate (Although those are great).
For Ryan and I, Sabbath is Sunday evening to Monday evening. It roughly looks like this:
7-9am : I'm up with Oliver doing my normal mom thing, but we christen our Sabbath Day with a candle, music and tasty breakfast. I light a candle, eat something special like "fluffy waffles, cinnamon rolls, special pre-made muffins" (basically sweet carbs which is my gift from Heaven in my eyes), play praise and worship at breakfast to cistern our Sabbath Day.
9-10am : Ryan and I have individual times with the Lord. Ryan is upstairs, I'm downstairs, Oliver does quiet time in his crib. (For me this is lots of listening and journaling. That really fuels my friendship with the Lord)
*** A huge part of traditional Sabbath is not to go, or buy. We break this. Mostly because, we live on the property of where we work. For Ryan, getting out of work mode means getting off property. So we usually will take a 30-40 min drive, eat at a yummy restaurant, take a walk and wiggle break at a park, and then drive home. *The drive is great for talking and podcast listening. We find great delight and rest in our friendship as a family. When we get home we always take a long family walk or nap.
6-7pm : We finish with dinner as a family at the table. We put Oliver to bed and then Ryan and I end the day praying together, asking each other ,"How's your heart?", going over budgets, and seeking the Lord for our family. We ask Him to help us steward this new week well.
It's not perfect. But that's why it's called "Practicing The Sabbath". The same way you practice baking bread or riding a bike, you practice "Sabbathing". The goal is that you have a set rhythm of rest, and during your designated "Sabbath" time your heart and body is postured with the Lord. Thank you for leaning in and learning with me. If you want to continue this journey I suggest the following: - "The Sabbath" - Heschel
- "Garden City" - John Marc Commer - "Rhythms of Rest : Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World" - Shelly Miller (Her blog is also great)
- Bible Project Podcast Series - "7th Day Rest" Happy Sabbath,