“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.” – Deuteronomy 5:12
Written by Rev. Brandon Durán
Mondays don’t bother me. It’s Tuesdays that are the killer.
Tuesdays have a habit of stacking meetings one right after another. The day begins with a church staff meeting, then worship planning, then a lunch meeting, and so on and so forth. Often, I fail to build any margin into the day, and I end up running from one thing to the next. Back-to-back meetings will try and convince me that I am being productive and that I am being efficient with my time. And aren’t those good things to be, productive and efficient?
Is that what God wants us to be? Are those God’s prioritized values?
The commandment to observe the sabbath seems to say otherwise.
A strong case could be made that the 4th commandment, “Keep the Sabbath,” is the most transgressed commandment in the Bible. And at the same time, the first century religious leaders were so fixated on keeping the Sabbath that it was Jesus’ “work” on the Sabbath that pushed them over the edge. Once they saw Jesus break the Sabbath, they set out to find a way to kill him.
Of course, it should be noted that when Jesus “worked” on the Sabbath he was healing people, not answering emails.
I am convinced that Sabbath means more than a weekly break. It means establishing a rhythm to life that intentionally makes space. It builds margins into our lives. Within these pauses there is rest, there is creativity, there is an opportunity to hear the spirit, and see the world in a new way. We can build Sabbath into each day by carving space in between meetings to take a few deep breaths or by intentionally praying before a meal or a snack or by setting aside time in the morning or at night to review the day.
A life without margins has no room for the unexpected and often, that’s exactly where God is.
Or as the famous Congregational minister and abolitionist, Rev. Henry Ward Beecher put it,
“A world without a Sabbath would be like a man without a smile, like a summer without flowers, and like a homestead without a garden. It is the most joyous day of the week.” (or time of the day)