“The people of Israel are to keep the Sabbath, to observe Sabbath through all their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the people of Israel forever; for in six days God made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and rested.”
In our society, the meaning of the word Sabbath seems to disappear into a place where we have a chance to catch up on chores or work that eluded us in the previous week. The thought of rest morphs into a time to run a few extra laps on a perpetual wheel that never seems to stop. How can we remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy when our lives are filled with business? There must be a way to stop and be still and focus on our amazing God.
As a father, husband, and pastor, I know what it is like to keep moving. This needs to get done, and that deadline needs to be met. It seems impossible to find a way to stop and observe the brilliance of the Holy One. Sabbath? It is a great idea, but difficult to put into practice.
Once I had the opportunity to have dinner with a doctor friend who is Jewish. Somehow, the conversation turned to the understanding of Sabbath. He told me that he attended a synagogue that uniquely welcomed the start of a time of rest. Everyone made a circle around the altar and danced. For my friend, this was out of his comfort zone, but he got lost in the realization that the congregants welcomed in a new time by which they turned away from the hectic pace of the working world and connected with God.
I hope that Sunday mornings are that way for us. Six days we can work and do daily chores, but on Sunday we are transported for the day to a place, a form of living that reminds us that the God of Creation demands that we stop and reconnect with Him. His language in the verses mentioned serves as a mandate to honor rest. How else can we be restored? Even phone batteries run out of juice is we don’t charge them up.
Jesus retreated to commune with God. For Him, he needed Sabbath like he needed air. Let us follow the example of the Christ and take the most precious give we can give to another person, time. My prayer for all of us is that we honor the Father and return home every week to worship, rest, and be made whole.