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.
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.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: Do you practice a Sabbath day? What difference does it make?
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