Monday, July 21, 2008

Family Shabbat- Part 1

I don't remember hearing many sermons on how to "honor the Sabbath and keep it holy." My understanding up to this point (until hearing JD and Tiffany teach on subject that is) pretty much came from what I learned in Sunday school eons ago- God rested on the 7th day and so should you. Interpret that as you wish.

So, we do what we see practiced typically, and this is a short list of what I've seen practiced in my childhood family or among close friends' families:
- Don't mow the grass
- Don't go grocery shopping
- Take naps
- Eat at a restaurant
- Don't eat at a restaurant (this forces others to work thus dishonoring their Sabbaths)
- Don't play cards
- Play games with family
- Go to church
- Eat a big meal after church (never mind that the lady of the house always cooks and cleans up this meal... how is her working any different than the waitresses at a restaurant?)
- Spend time with family
- Refuse participation in sports leagues that travel on Sundays
- Incorporate travel sports league time into family Sabbath time
- Relax
- Relax while watching sports
- Relax while reading a book (preferably the Bible)
- Relax while reading a book and watching sports but then fall asleep in the recliner
- Serve someone else or cook meals for others and invite them over
- And when I was a kid, some of my friends weren't allowed to have me over on Sunday because it was family day. What a massive paradox of messages!

I've been thinking a lot lately about how our family observes the Sabbath- what it looks like now and how we'd like it to look. What messages will we send to our boys about observing a weekly day of rest and worship?

First, I love the idea of "feasting" on the Sabbath (and not just with food). JD talked about this last fall and one of the things I took away was that we don't do feasting very well sometimes because we don't fast well. If I treat myself (or my children) to ice cream every time the notion strikes us, is it really a treat anymore? And the same could be said for eating out, watching a movie, eating in front of the TV, drinking soda, taking a road trip, going to the mall and probably hundreds of other things. If I want to experience the joy of the "feast" on the Sabbath, I have to be willing to fast- to refrain, to deny satisfying every sense at every moment on a daily basis.

Secondly, I love the idea of not working for one whole day. This is a hard one for me. I love to work. It doesn't matter really what kind of work- employment, church work, school work, house work, gardening- I just like to be active with my mind, body or both. Truly enjoying a Sabbath involves working hard all week- taking care of all of my responsibilities in 6 days. Again, going back to fasting and feasting, if I "take breaks" for long periods of time during the week, I can't expect to feel refreshed on my day of rest. More than likely I'll end up feeling pressured all day on my sabbath about all of the things I haven't gotten done that week. I need to work hard all week and then take serious rest time for one whole 24 hour period.

Eric would confirm that the resting part is harder for me than the working part. When I drug out the vacuum cleaner this past Sunday he said, "I thought you weren't working today?" I smiled and said, "But what if I find vacuuming enjoyable?" He said, "You don't enjoy vacuuming; you enjoy accomplishing, and the Sabbath is all about abandoning your need to accomplish." Hmmmm, wise words. I'm still chewing on that one.

So, I've been doing some reading and I'm learning some things. I'll share those in a later post, but for this week anyway, I'm going to work hard and save some things that I really enjoy for this Sunday. We'll see if I can avoid accomplishing anything next Sunday. :)


amberly said...

abandon the need to accomplish. nailed me with that one...

if you have not already read it, i recommend rabbi abraham heschel's book about Sabbath.

Anonymous said...

i love your thoughts on this and look forward to what you start discovering. i'm the opposite... not so much a need to accomplish as a need to take rest periods during the week. i liked your idea of working hard 6 days so that you really look forward to and really benefit from the 7th day rest.

(couldn't help but chuckle at the part about the huge sunday feast with the woman working... probably harder than she does for any other meal of the week... but that was my family- complete with dad napping in front of his sports and newspaper)

Simile Metaphor Collection

Elijah after running: My heart is beating like a coconut rolling down a hill.
Elijah on urination: Pee is like horses galloping out of the gate. Once they get started you just can't stop them.
Elijah: If school were a human I'd give it a wedgie.
Elijah: I am like a hot rod and I just want to be a plain old Ford
Elijah on the fruits of the spirit: I've got them all covered except self-control. Its like a tiny green tomato and the rest are all big ripe ones. Especially love. Its like the biggest tomato we saw in the garden tonight.