Sabbath Monday?

For me, Sunday is most often a “working” day–up early at my desk to pray and to put the finishing touches on my sermon, with a full morning at church, an afternoon that often means more visiting and finishing up odds and ends from the previous week, and getting ready for the next. Sundays are definitely Sabbath in the sense of time for worship, but Sabbath rest for me normally comes on Mondays.

Or does it?

Yes, Monday is my “day off” from the church, but is a day off the same thing as Sabbath? If I spend my Monday morning cleaning up the kitchen, doing laundry, and getting groceries, is that really Sabbath time? Why or why not? And does it matter?  For the last while, I’ve been playing with the idea of sacred pause as a daily mini-Sabbath, but what about a Sabbath day?

These questions made me eager to read Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family’s Experiment with Holy Time by MaryAnn McKibben Dana (Chalice Press, 2012). In it, she tells the story of her own family–how things needed to change for her and her husband and their three children, how they began experimenting with a day set apart, and what they learned along the way.  Sabbath in the Suburbs

It’s an engaging story–at once both personal and yet applying well beyond her own family, an honest account of the challenges and yet wonderfully encouraging.

At the end of the book she offers this vision of Sabbath:

I picture people all over the world, keeping the Sabbath in their own ways, whether with candles and blessings on Saturdays, Christian worship and a slow leisurely afternoon on Sundays, or countless other variations. I see people picking up this book or reading an article online, and making one small change that will allow a little gracious slack into their schedules. I imagine people shutting down the computer, stowing the iPhone, and looking their beloved in the eye with an attentiveness so true and dear that it startles them both. I see children teaching parents how to play again. I dream of congregations deciding not to add one more program to an already full schedule and instead giving people tools to embrace Sabbath in their own ways, in their own homes, in their own hearts.

Thank you, MaryAnn–I haven’t answered all of my questions about Sabbath Monday yet, but I’ve started a social media Sabbath Saturday 6pm – Sunday 6pm, and plan to recommend this book to the families and small groups in my church.

Your Turn: Do you practice a Sabbath day? What difference does it make?



Categories: Book Reviews, Social Media, Spiritual Practice

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7 replies

  1. Hi April, such a powerful message about the Sabbath! Our society completely ignores the Sabbath and we see this culture in our own churches as well. It is all about being productive people. However, my wife and I have been doing it for a while. I mean taking one day as our Sabbath and really rest. As a result, we have much higher productivity in the rest of the week. Even if we don’t have time for the Sabbath, we have to believe that we will have time to do everything else on the other 6 days God’s given us. The reality is that we don’t either, but even working 24/7 we don’t. It is about faith and trusting God will provide.God bless you, Paulo

  2. I find that Monday isn’t the right day-I tend to be following up any pastoral issues (and unfortunately, all too often, the latest upsets between members) that have surfaced on Sunday. I do make sure of a rest day (Thursday) but from what you’ve said maybe that’s not the same as a “Sabbath”-what’s the difference?. Also, does anyone else struggle to get their day off to correspond with their husband’s day off? We’re not a traditional “ministry couple ” as Alan has a different calling and our timetables rarely mesh smoothly. I’m really glad though to be leading a church where my deacons hold me accountable for having my day off and “nag” if I miss one-they are a lovely caring and when necessary, bossy team!

  3. Having learnt the hard way, I used to keep Thursday as my day of rest. No cleaning or housework. No checking the emails or messages (or sneaking off to the computer). I also keep Friday evening as my ‘sabbath’. On Friday evening the computer would be switched off or I would head for home if not already there. An evening for me to enjoy being with God. Sometimes alone, sometimes with others. I love cooking, so often I would cook a meal for friends. We break bread and drink wine, in a very informal fashion. Even my non-Christian friends, when they come on a Friday evening, will share bread with me. They don’t share my faith, but they respect what that faith means to me. Sometimes it’s get a pizza and watch a video time. Sometimes it’s just me, some decent music and a mug of tea. But through it all is an awareness that this is special time set apart to be with my God. I have to say the most difficult thing as a cleric is to get the message through to congregations that I am not available on Friday evenings. My churchwardens were extremely supportive – others didn’t understand why the minster wasn’t there…
    I’m now in the interesting position of being on unpaid sabbatical for a year. Where does sabbath stop or start? Still exploring that one!

  4. Thanks, Paulo – I so agree that whether we work 24/7 or not, we’re always missing something, always leaving something undone, and Sabbath reminds me that’s ok. My husband and I have the same day off at this point but it hasn’t always been that way, so we’ve learned to be creative with whatever time we have. We generally keep Friday evenings clear for us, but this coming weekend I’m attending a Friday evening and all day Saturday conference, plus I’m preaching on Sunday morning and have an evening commitment, so I’m glad we both have the following Monday off! Ruth Wood and iggandfriends, it’s great to hear that you have supportive leadership which really helps too.

  5. This Is such a good question. I am a children’s ministry director and sometimes feel like I work every day. I am also a busy mom of three children ages seven years to 18 years. I, at this point, do not have a Sabbath day or a day of rest set aside. I think I need to get this book and read it. It seems like if there aren’t things to do for church or ministry there is so much to be done as a mom. My spiritual walk and my relationship with my heavenly father is very important to me, but I have had a difficult time setting aside that time to be alone with him. My husband and I own our own business as well. I do not work in that business. But he and I find it difficult to find time together with our work schedules and our children’s schedules. Trying to be a children’s pastor, supermom, excellent wife, And daughter to aging and health failing parents, can be overwhelming at times. Any advice and encouragement would be appreciated.

  6. Wow, Dolly, you do sound busy! I’ve found it helpful to work with the idea of sacred pause–that even a tiny scrap of time is enough to turn toward God (a la the 14th century Cloud of Unknowing)–so my book Sacred Pauses talks about choosing an everyday icon to remind me to turn to God, pausing for a moment of silence before getting out of the car and running into my next meeting, and other ways of using those tiny scraps of time. Sabbath in the Suburbs recognizes that kind of pause but focuses more on having Sabbath time together with family in larger chunks of a day or part of a day. I highly recommend it.

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