Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Shabbat"

A friend of mine at Campbell who is also a pastor told a story once. He was mowing his lawn on Sunday afternoon one day, when a member of his church drove by in the car. The church member stopped and greeted his pastor kindly. However, during their short conversation the church member asked what the pastor was doing mowing his grass on a Sunday? “Keep the Sabbath holy” was behind this question no doubt.

We get the word, Sabbath, from the Hebrew word שַׁבָּת (shabbat) meaning "cease." After six days of creation, God 'ceased' his work during the seventh day. Like wise, the fourth commandment is a command to take a day of rest and honor it, because rest is simply important.

I recently read a passage in John where Jesus is "caught" healing on the Sabbath and getting into trouble with those wily o'le Jews. Jesus responded to them by saying, "My Father is always at work, to this very day, and I, too, and working."

But when Jesus healed on the Sabbath the Pharisees, or religious leaders, paid the healing part no mind. They were too concerned that Jesus had "worked" on the Sabbath and thus broken Jewish religious tradition. Jesus had not broken a commandment, but simply religious convention. Over time, the Rabbinic oral tradition had made the Jewish laws even stricter. They had set regulations about what you could and couldn't do on the Sabbath so as to avoid doing work. These were regulations such as how much weight you could carry and even how many steps you could take on the Sabbath. What Jesus did was not forbidden by the Torah, but by tradition.

The Sabbath is supposed to be a time of rest. Got rested on the seventh day and so should we. For many of us it is also a time of worship. It ought, however, to be a break from the daily grind. (Get it, God took a break from the "day-ly" grind!) My guess is, whether you mow your lawn or not, the Sabbath should allow you adequate rest before you resume work.

Americans are probably the worst for never taking a Sabbath. We quit working at our regular job on Friday, but then too often fill up our weekend with other obligations and other forms of work. This often leaves us drained for work come Monday morning. That is not a Sabbath.

Perhaps you need to take a time for quality restful rest. When is the last time you took a Sabbath: time to rest for rest's sake? If you can't remember, it might be that time.

Rest well my friend.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Love it! You're half Adventist already. :)