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  • Writer's pictureThe Millennial Preacher

Sabbath, the Verb with Promise


Recently I wrote a paper on Sabbath as resistance. I betcha never heard it put that way before, and neither did I. To many of us Western Christians Sabbath is a foreign concept. We know the word but we don't understand the reason or the value. Sabbath is something unique all to itself. It's a action command with a promise of communion. It's a lifestyle change and something we Christians need.


To many of us Western Christians Sabbath is a foreign concept.

In his work "Sabbath As Resistance", Walter Brueggemann attempts to aid the over worked, over busy and weary disciple. His thesis is found in the preface: “In our own contemporary context of the rat race of anxiety, the celebration of Sabbath is an act of both resistance and alternative; It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity good. Such and act of resistance requires enormous intentionality and communal reinforcement amid the barrage of seductive pressures from the insatiable insistences of the market… But Sabbath is not only resistance. It is alternative… The alternative on offer is the awareness and practice of the claim that we are situated on the receiving end of the gifts of God.”[1]

[1] Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now, First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014).

The alternative offer is the awareness and practice of the claim that we are situated on the receiving end of the gifts of God

As with most Western Christians I find myself in a place of absolute busyness. I find little time to pause and reflect and thus I miss moments with God. I believe that as an American, and a Southern American at that I find it hard to take true breaks and let the mind ease. Life in this system is one of work and working as hard as you can to get “one up” on everyone. The day of rest is a seemingly foreign topic and grows increasing distant. Brueggemann calls this cycle of production as a cycle of anxiety. The Lord has a deep respect and love for His children, and He wants us to enjoy a day. This day isn’t just meant for relaxation but on reflection of the creation around us.


This brings me to a place that difficult. I’ve fallen victim to viewing worship as one dimensional. I’ve caught myself mistakenly defining worship as a time within our church services of song and possibly prayer but nothing more. Worship is a lifestyle and Sabbath is that. I’ve had the privilege of going to Synagogue twice. I’ve heard the Hebrew songs of remembrance and witnessed the observance of a Holy day. Sabbath is something amazing, but not something I’ve applied well.


 


Even after experiencing a service I’ve “chucked” Sabbath up to a religious garment. This book has shown me that Sabbath is a time of equality between God and His people. On Sabbath there is no rank or class, but a time when God and we may rest together in unity and true communion. It’s Covenant. It’s worship. Sabbath is an intentional action that requires what all worship does. The Bible teaches us to worship in spirit and in truth. The core of me is my spirit man, who longs to be with the Lord. Truth is putting aside falsehood and, in this context, putting a focus on the realness of God. Worship is pausing to reflect on one’s worthiness. So, I’ve redefined worship and refocused it as communion. Sabbath is that.


Sabbath is also a gift, a special thing that only God can give. The Father created us to be productive, to create, to make and design, but without a break what would be the purpose of such creation? The Lord Himself enjoyed Sabbath as He marveled at what He had done. When I consider that I’m made in the very image of my God and that He gifted me with a mind and crafted me with such ability I’m lost in awe. By being productive I’m fulfilling what I’m designed to do but I’m also designed like my Father to pause and reflect, not on what I have done but on what He has created me to do and done through me. Sabbath brings me to a place in which I can be even more like Him. The beauty is, is that as a resistance it is noticeable and expresses that likeness outward. Effectively telling the world I’m like my creator, not the world in which I live.


The question now is "how do we bring Sabbath into our reality?"


With a better understanding of Sabbath we can begin to implement it. Now that we are in the middle of crisis that causes us to retreat to self isolation, Sabbath has become an opportunity but we must turn the word into a verb.


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