After six days spent creating the world, the Genesis creation account tells us that, on the seventh day, God ‘rested from all his work’. Years later, God would include the sabbath as part of the Ten Commandments he gave to the children of Israel through Moses, declaring that the ’seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God’.
Until very recently in our history, based on this idea of sabbath, much of society has shut down on a Sunday: shops closed, work stopped, people rested. But as we all well know, that’s now changed. Irreversibly so. And that inevitably raises some key questions:
Is the sabbath something we should consign to the past, or does it still have relevance for us today?
If it is still relevant, what might the command to ‘remember the sabbath’ look like for us in our 21st century, western world context?
That is what we’re going to focus on this week. And let me just say straight out that I’m convinced the answer to the first question is that the sabbath is still hugely relevant for our lives today. We may or may not be able to have one full day each week where everything stops, but we can all learn to find ways to slow down, switch off, say no, and take time out.
This is vital because, as the author Eugene Peterson says, without the sabbath, ’we soon become totally absorbed in what we are doing and saying, and God’s work is either forgotten or marginalised.’
The sabbath helps remind us of our sense of place in the world. It helps us rediscover who we are, why we do what we do, and how everything fits within God’s kind and generous plans for our world. Through the sabbath we regain perspective, we reconnect with the purpose of our lives, and our very awareness of God is reawakened.
The sabbath is vital to our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and well-being. The busier we are and the more tired we are, the more we need to find ways to embrace the sabbath. And no matter what our life looks like, we can all make some simple changes that apply the essence of sabbath to our everyday lives.
And that’s what we’ll explore for the rest of this week.
Originally published at www.samradford.com.