Today is Tuesday. One crucial question we need to learn to ask is: How are we going to make Sunday the best day of the week? What do we need to do to make sure we are ready to observe it with a Sabbath heart? Establishing this rhythm of looking to Sunday in the middle of the week makes the whole cycle of the week richer. Here are a few quotes from the book Seven Days of Faith by R. Paul Stevens. Perhaps they will serve to frame your thinking.
“For many people, even the attempt to experience Sabbath can become work. The church unwittingly encourages the toxic mix of compulsive ministry and utilitarian spirituality. … Hardly ever is a person commended for refusing an office. Doing is considered more important than being. Sunday is often the most hectic and stressful day of the week, the least restful.”
“Sabbath and leisure have much in common: they are both personally restorative, enjoyable, non-utilitarian, and playful. But there are significant differences. Leisure is a matter of personal choice; Sabbath is a divine law (Exodus 20:8). Leisure is perceived as avocational; Sabbath is vocational—part of the response of our entire persons to the call of God. Leisure is directed mainly to self, while Sabbath is directed more to God. Therefore, leisure is more concerned with pleasure than meaning, while Sabbath is more concerned with meaning than pleasure. Both are aesthetic, but leisure tends toward hedonism while Sabbath invites contemplation. In sum, leisure is more often a diversion from Sabbath than a means of experiencing Sabbath, and this I think is reasonable to call it pseudo-Sabbath. It cannot give us a day of rest.”
“Sabbath seems to be a waste of time, but in reality it is the redemption of time.”
“In the deepest sense, we do not keep Sabbath; the Sabbath keeps us. Sabbath was intended to be the leisured but intentional experience of reflection on the source and goals of our life on earth. Therefore, it keeps us turned toward God and heaven bound. We make ourselves available to the gift of Sabbath precisely because we are not capable on our own of sustaining our orientation toward God and our heavenly direction. So we are left with a biblical irony: we must explore how to enter that rest. Some form of Sabbath is not an optional extra for the New Testament Christian. It is fundamental to spiritual health, and even to emotional health.”
My experience in attempting to keep Sabbath in a basically Sabbath-less world has taught me that these observations are true. Keeping Sabbath keeps us, but because it is such a countercultural activity, we have to keep keeping at it. This holy rhythm all too easily slips out of our grasp. How frequently myself thinking, “Oh, we’re losing our Sabbath-practice again!” So some time on Wednesday/Thursday, I remind myself to plan the weekend—not what gardening I will get done, or what event we might attend, but first of all, how we will make Sunday the best day of the week. Then all the rest can follow.
Other projects involving Karen Mains right now:
Karen Mains is currently involved in a mentor writing project involving teleconferencing. She has just finished a cycle with six “wannabe writers” and is brainstorming the effectiveness of her “Personal Memoir Writing” curriculum with that group. She and her husband, David, are hoping to lead a Christian trip to Kenya, Africa next March for the purpose of developing micro-enterprise projects.