Do you practice honoring the Sabbath? If so, in what ways do you remember this sacred time of rest and refuge?
In November, Sabbath is the theme for Healthy Spirituality’s Tending the Holy Thursday series where I highlight a spiritual practice or a person(s) of faith for several weeks, so we can explore the topic with more depth. It is my hope and prayer we all can learn something new, gain ideas, and be motivated to dig deeper into this practice.
How is God inviting us into Sabbath?
As usual with each month’s theme, I have an additional FREE download for you. I knew I wanted to learn more what the Bible said about Sabbath and was surprised at the number of verses referring to Sabbath. Then I began to dive into quotes from the writings of others who pondered the Sabbath and I was amazed at the nuggets of wisdom I discovered. So I compiled them for you into a PDF called “Quotes and Verses to Ponder About the Sabbath” and you can obtained this resource by simply clicking the button at the end of this post. I hope its words deepen this exploration.
Sabbath – Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight
The thoughts and tips about this practice come from the classic book called Sabbath – Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. Next week I will feature Shelly Millers new book, Rhythms of Rest.
Muller’s book, originally released in 1999, contains gems of wisdom and inspirational guidance into this practice. Here are some of his thoughts:
“Sabbath time can be a revolutionary challenge to the violence of overwork, mindless accumulation and the endless multiplication of desire, responsibilities, and accomplishments. Sabbath is a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know, and taste the gifts of spirit and eternity… Sabbath honors the necessary wisdom of dormancy…a time to remember to celebrate what is beautiful and sacred.”
Muller’s approach to Sabbath is not just something we do, but something we are, we become.
“Let us remain empty as possible so that God can fill us up.”
[Tweet ““Let us remain empty as possible so that God can fill us up.” Mother Teresa”]
“At our best, we become Sabbath for one another. We are the emptiness, the day of rest. We become space, that our loved ones, the lost and sorrowful, may find rest in us… not fixing, not harming , no acting. Quietly empty, we become Sabbath, where the sorrows of the world are safely poured and gently dissolve into the unfathomable immensity of rest and silence.”
I am in awe of this beautiful writing in the quote above and fascinated by the idea of being Sabbath, holding that space for the self and for others to find God. Reminds me of the Henri Nouwen quote I shared a few months back when we explore hospitality – “Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.”
Muller brings our focus on the space within ourselves and in our crazy busy time. He writes,
“Sabbath time can be like this, a sanctuary in time where we consecrate our loved ones, our yearnings for peace, our prayers for strength and well-being for our children…If we are too busy to see them, hold them or play with them, they escape our blessing and we are bereft of theirs…Sabbath time is set apart for remembering the holiness of life.”
Sabbath time isn’t just for me and isn’t just a law or an obligation or something else I need to “do” to get into heaven. Sabbath is an invitation to rest, to connect, embrace life. In reality, sabbath is a gift – one I have been leaving unopened.
Muller shares so much wisdom about Sabbath – I am only highlighting a few thoughts. I do encourage you to read or reread this book. Towards the back of the book he writes about how to honor this day at different times, including a new insight for me – leaving Sabbath time.
He shares that our Jewish friends hold a Sabbath-ending ceremony called the Havdalah. We could learn much from those among us of the Jewish faith when it comes to remembering this command.
“For Havdalah, Jacob and his family sit quietly on the floor around the Havdalah candle. They are silent for a moment, and then each shares the best part of Sabbath and what they look forward to in the week. ‘It is time of grounding us together before we go back into our buy lives.’ A cup of spices is passed, the sweet aroma reminding us of the delicious Sabbath time, so that as we leave and reenter the work of our life, we carry with us the lingering fragrance of rest. ..We feel more spacious, and the spices in our nostrils are a sensual reminder of where we have been.”
Again the concept of being spacious. And don’t you love the idea of the “lingering fragrance of rest?” And I appreciate the framework and the beauty of this ritual.
Muller’s book provides much to think about and pray over.
5 Tips for Sabbath
Here are a few tips taken from Muller’s book:
- Choose at least one heavily used appliance or device – TV, phone, computer, washer and dryer for example, and let them rest for a Sabbath period. A sacred time away from technology.
- Prepare a Sabbath meal – not just for survival as for sheer, savory delight. Take your time eating the meal. Add some music. Decorate the table. Say grace, being thankful. Enjoy the meal with intention.
- Be mindful. Find a trigger – touching a doorknob, the phone ringing, a chime of a clock. Choose one common act during the day to serve as a reminder for a Sabbath pause. Simply stop, take three deep silent breaths, then proceed. Celebrate Sabbath moments.
- Sabbath “was born with the creation of the earth so Sabbath time bests in intimate synchronicity with the rhythms of nature.” Get outside. Take a walk. Feel the breeze on your face. Even nap. (Gotta love an afternoon nap on a Sunday!)
- Choose a short Bible verse such as the phrase “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Sit with those words or take a slow walk and allow the verse to accompany you. Repeat it with your breath. What do you notice? How do you change?
Next week I will add more tips, essential elements and questions to think about concerning this practice. I look forward to exploring Sabbath with you, the Healthy Spirituality community.
Don’t forget to download your free copy of the “Quotes and Verses to Ponder about Sabbath” by clicking on the button below. I compiled 100 interesting words of wisdom about this discipline.
Click Here to Get “Quotes and Verses to Ponder about Sabbath”
What do you think? What does Sabbath mean to you? How do you, if you do, honor the Sabbath? Any tips for me?
P. S. Every once in a while, I ask you to fill out a survey offering me feedback on this blog and what to present. I value you input. Here is the link for this year’s survey. Please complete it before the end of November. Thanks so much.
Next week Nov 14, 15, and 17 at 2: 30 p.m. eastern I will be on Facebook live talking about Advent. You will find the broadcast on my Facebook page here and it will be available as a replay at that same spot if you can’t join me live. I hope some of you can catch me there too.
Nancy Ruegg says
I was thinking the same as Martha: many of these tips would add worthwhile moments of rest to any day of the week, not just Sunday. It has become my habit to give social media a rest on Sunday, and focus on face-to-face socialization. We usually enjoy brunch after church with our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. Then our small group meets Sunday evening. “Amen” to that suggestion of a nap. When I taught school, that extra bit of Sabbath-sleep was especially sweet indeed!
Jean Wise says
You both are right too. Remember this past summer when I wrote about slowing down to be with God – there is a real overlap in those practices. Guess we need to be intentionally about cherishing our time, our moments, our experiences with God and with our loved ones. Life is precious and fragile. I like your weekly brunch routine. what neat memories you are building.
Nancy Ruegg says
Oh, yes. Intentionality is key–to cherish our time, our moments, our experiences with God and the loved ones he’s given us. Well said, Jean!
Martha Orlando says
What I love about Muller’s tips that you shared here, Jean, is that we can engage in them, at least to some extent, every day of the week, not just on Sunday. I especially like the putting away of technology and being mindful. Thanks for reminding us that we all need Sabbath rest.
Matt Philleo says
Hi Jean, thanks for the post–it opens up a good discussion. Sabbath is a very personal thing. I grew up in a religion that was extremely legalistic and followed many of the Jewish laws and customs, including Sabbath. These rules, then, became more of the basis of our right standing with God rather than faith in Christ. We left that as a child, and later when I came to faith in Christ as an adult, I was very opposed to anything resembling Sabbath.
However, since I go to church on Sunday, I’ve grown into setting aside a special time to seek the Lord Saturday night. I stop doing anything related to business, shut my emails off, and spend time with my family. Then I have a time of prayer in the evening to seek the Lord for his presence at church the next day. All Sunday is filled with two services at church and family time in between. I’m tempted to worry about business things, but I shut down the thoughts and again focus on God and family. This has become my Sabbath.
I think this is something we all need. Our minds as well as our bodies need a time for rest and recharging. The sabbath, whichever day a person chooses to observe it (Colossians 2:16), is God’s gift to us, and the purpose is to enrich our faith in Christ, who, as we leave off from trusting in our own works to His finished work, is our ultimate Sabbath Rest.
Jean Wise says
Thanks for sharing your story, Matt. This is a great point that to consider how different seasons affect our spiritual practices too. Interesting aspect to this discussion. I love the idea of how you start on Saturday evening. wonderful tip! and good advice about not being tempting to think about work/business on Sunday. I let that creep into my heart way too often! Amen and amen to your words. Thanks for sharing!
Lisa notes says
I love suggestion #1: choose one device. It’s too hard for me to choose all social media/internet/laptop, etc., to abstain from. But just choosing one device might be easier. And ironically I need keeping the Sabbath to be easier. 🙂
Jean Wise says
HI Lisa, As I get deeper into this topic I too am seeing I am practicing Sabbath more than I realize yet God is inviting me to expand and let go and renew this practice. One device works better for me too and I think creating a time frame from 6:00 pm through 4:00 pm the next day for example. I reach mindlessly for my phone way too often and could be more mindful of God in those moments for example. There is an irony to keeping it simple though. Will have to think about that too. Thanks for joining the conversation.
The prayer that you chose, Psalm 23, is usually recited during the Shabbat (Saturday) afternoon (minchah) service (Jewish tradition.)
I observe Shabbat by usually attending Friday evening services with family. I especially like the evening service, especially the Amidah (one of the central prayers in Judaism) because it is said silently and gives me dedicated time to speak to God, meditate, contemplate on my day / week, and pray for healing of specific people, the country, the world.
I also don’t work on Shabbat and after Saturday morning services, I usually spend the rest of the day with friends and family.
Jean Wise says
Oh, Irene I was so thrilled you added to this conversation. I almost sent you an email asking you for your insight and practice so feel free to share. The Jewish faith is so rich and we can learn much from you and our shared roots. I didn’t know about the Amidah and just looked it up. What a beautiful prayer of praise, focused on our God. Thank you for sharing this. Blessings!