The practice of Sabbath is an Old Testament command of God for the Israelites - the command that every Sabbath day should be a day of rest that would be dedicated entirely to the Lord:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11)Modern-day Christians are divided in opinion as to whether the practice of Sabbath ended with the new covenant of Christ, or is still applicable to Christians. But regardless of whether Sabbath is or is not commanded, it is still good! God created and commanded the Sabbath because it was good, so it is still a beneficial practice for those who choose it, regardless of whether or not it's a requirement.
DH and I have wanted to practice Sabbath ever since we got married ten years ago, but we never made it happen until this past year. And the reason for our repeated failure was that we made Sabbath conditional - "If we get everything done by Sunday, then we'll take a Sabbath."
But the problem, of course, is that one is never officially "finished" with all that one has to do, thus Sabbath that is practiced conditionally never happened for us. We always had something that needed to be done, and so we went week after week (and year after year) without ever making our Sabbath goals happen.
However, this past year we have finally made Sabbath a reality! This may or may not have anything to do with our family's preoccupation with watching "Fiddler on the Roof," but the truth finally sank in - to make Sabbath happen, it simply has to happen - regardless of whether or not we're done with everything we want to accomplish. It just is when it is, not when it might be convenient!
We've really enjoyed the practice of Sabbath, and we plan to continue it. Here are a few things that we have tried as we work to construct a meaningful Sabbath observance:
Sundown to Sundown - We modern Americans think of a "day" as "when we get up till when we go to bed," but acting upon the Biblical precepts of "sundown to sundown," we have made our Sabbath 6:00 p.m. on Saturday to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.
This has worked much better for us than the "Sunday Sabbath" practice, and we really like it. As moms know, the success of any day begins the night before with preparation for the coming day. So Saturday evening really belongs to Sunday, and Sunday evening really belongs to Monday. Using the sundown-to-sundown concept has been very useful, because Sabbath begins when the day is winding down and looking toward Sunday, and Sabbath ends just as we need to ramp up preparations for Monday morning, Plus, it's fun to begin Sabbath as the sun sets!
Sunday Worship - This is a no-brainer, but Sunday is set aside for church and worship of the Lord. After all, that's one of the main purposes of Sabbath practice!
Sabbath Rest - One of the other huge components of Sabbath is a God-commanded rest. Isn't that awesome? God cares about our need for rest. Thus, on Sabbath, we refrain from extra work. Daily things continue on - meal preparation, dishes, laundry, diapers, etc. - but extra things like housecleaning, deep cleaning projects, personal projects, shopping, etc. all come to a halt. This is a wonderful break for me! Even though my Sundays are nearly as busy as other days due to the needs of the family, it is wonderfully freeing to have a day when I can look at the floor and think, "Wow. The floor needs washing. But I'm not going to wash it and I don't have to feel guilty about it! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!" Then I can go sit down and read a book (for approximately 30 seconds until one of the children needs me).
Family Time - We try to do Sunday afternoon family outings whenever possible - to a park (or, during the summer, Bass Pro Shop!) or some such place, or go for a family walk. We try to aim for a super-simple dinner so that I am not stuck in the kitchen and we can focus on time as a family. (As a matter of fact we do this almost every night, but we try to be especially intentional about it on Sundays.)
Nixing Screen Time - This is something that I am trying, that is, a screen-time black-out for 24 hours each week - I do not get on the computer (unless I forget!) during Sabbath hours. It's wonderfully refreshing, though sometimes difficult, and I'm hoping to continue this.
We are not super-strict about Sabbath, though we do our best. It's been a wonderful practice to introduce to our family, and we hope to continue it. If your family practices Sabbath, I would love to hear about different ways that you implement it in your home!
One other note: For my own sanity and to rescue much-needed planning time, I am currently on a Facebook and Blog Reader break! Thus, please feel free to let me know if anything big happens in your life (that I'm missing on Facebook) or if you create a new blog post! (I'm trying to check friend blogs individually, but I am sure I'm missing some posts.)