Sabbath: It’s A Commandment

The view from my Porch

The view from my Porch

As I write, I am on my porch at the farm.  The evening meal is over, the work of the day and the scorching heat are behind me.  I have left the kitchen, the computer and TV, with all their temptations, inside the house.

The porch is a place of Sabbath rest.  It’s where I hear the buzz of insects and the barking of dogs a half mile away.  Here, I can study the day lilies I’ve been weeding and a family of cliff swallows nesting under the eave.  I can gaze into the horizon and think weighty thoughts, or just focus on the way the whiskers of the cats twitch as they sleep by my feet.

Sabbath is a clearing in the heavily wooded life.  It is the difference between driving 70 miles an hour and ambling down a path.  In an Alban Institute article I read recently, Richard L. Hester and Kelli Walker-Jones write that Sabbath is a “neighbor-respecting” behavior in which “life is not madly engaged in production and consumption.”

I imagine, wistfully, that there was a time when Sabbath was honored with more discipline than it is today.  I imagine robust hymn singing on Sunday mornings, front porch conversation with neighbors, softball games, Parcheesi and Sheepshead.

Well, maybe there never was such a time, but there was and is, tucked in the ancient scrolls, a commandment to practice Sabbath.  And why would God command such a thing?  To remind us that we are not, ultimately, in charge of this world.  It is God’s Project.  Sabbath is a time to let God be in charge.

We Christians spend much of our time laboring over the brokenness all around us.  We are in a perpetual state of “fixing” things.  And yet, one of our formative creeds, the Westminster Catechism, confesses that the “chief end of {humanity} is to glorify God, and to enjoy {God} forever.”  Enjoy God and everything God created!  That is your job!  Most days, we are called to patch the holes in this world.  But some days, we are commanded to stop and notice the wholeness, the extravagant perfection God has rendered in spite of our brokenness.

It’s August.  If you are going to get any Sabbath time at all, it better be now.  So go ahead.  Put down the mail and the dishes and your I-Pod.  Go out on the porch or to the park down the street.  Sing to the flowers.  Talk to your cat.  Stare at the horizon.  Play Parcheesi with someone you love.  This is not a suggestion.  It’s a commandment.

3 responses to “Sabbath: It’s A Commandment

  1. Thank you! I needed this! Jenny

  2. Rodger Linkenhoker

    June Bugs, Jar flies, and Katydids calling in the night.
    Cool evening breeze and the cooing of a dove,
    Peace of the Lord, surrounding us with His love,
    Thank you, Lord, for these quiet moments.

    Amen

  3. Thank you, Rodger, for your Sabbath poetry!

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