Keeping the Sabbath?

SAbbath KeepingMichael Sleeth came to speak at Gordon College, my alma mater, and I was giddily excited to see him.  I really enjoyed his book Serve God, Save the Planet, and have recommended it to many people since then (here’s the blog post I wrote about it.)

The focus of his talk though, was his newer book “24/6: A prescription for a happier healthier life.”  This book details the benefits and reasons for engaging in a weekly Sabbath which includes practicing several things (eg; hospitality, reflection, study) as well as abstaining from many things (eg: extended travel, commerce, hyperconnectivity, work (however you define it.)).

I agree with him on all those points.  But… bottom line – I can’t incorporate a “full-on Sabbath” into my life right now.  There isn’t a single day of the week that I can set aside to practice ALL of the recommendations AT ONCE (for multiple boring reasons you don’t want to read about.)

BUT, I do work hard at incorporating each principle throughout my week, and my long standing interest in the issue of rest and leisure (stemming from, unsurprisingly, my time in New Zealand wwoofing) means that in the past, I HAVE practiced “full-on Sabbath.”

Here is my short list of Sabbath practices and what they look like during my week, as a contrast to what they can look like on a single day.

Time for Reflection: Knowing that I would be busy during the school year, I purposely scheduled a time to reflect on the week, lessons learned, and changes to make, as well as a time to puzzle out interesting philosophical questions that arose.  For me, this meant giving up one of my son’s naptimes as a time for work, and instead allocate it as a time for reflection.  Adding on one extra hour of study to two other study sessions fixed the time difference with minimal sacrifice.

– No Emails on Saturday – (self explanatory, right.)

Limited hours on social media sites all week.  I have found that I am better able to manage my time, motivation, and productivity when I set aside time to browse ridiculous buzzfeed articles, watch movie trailers, and read blogs rather than taking “breaks” from study by indulging in 10 minutes here and there.  Inevitably I am distracted for much longer than I want.  Furthermore, I NEVER (okay, very very rarely) multitask between spending time with my son and the internet.  I know that won’t work for many others, but I have found it to be extremely free-ing to simply limit my computer hours to those when he isn’t around, or isn’t awake.

– Time for friendships – I agree with Michael Sleeth (and others) that part of the Sabbath should be time spent practicing hospitality and strengthening friendships, and making new ones.  I am sure to set aside at least 1 – 2 nights/afternoons a week for time to actively connect with others.  Generally, I also try to authentically engage with others during these time on more than simply a surface level (ie: ‘tell me about your day’) – though, there is nothing wrong with that if not done exclusively!

Limited Commerce – The average American spends 45 minutes a day shopping, so I read in a recent newsource.  (Whether that’s online, or physical stores I’m not sure, I didn’t dig into the numbers, nor did I dig into whether it included services (like haircuts?) as well.)  That’s about 5 hours a week.  Since I make it my goal to spend less than 5 hours a month in stores, this one is waaay to easy for me to make a habit.  Of all of Sleeth’s suggestions, this one is the easiest for me to see the benefit of.

And you – what are your thoughts on the Sabbath? On rest?  On practicing these elements of life?  Is what I’m doing technically not Sabbath keeping?


Author: Beth M

I love new ideas & information, connecting people, and discovering New England adventures.

5 thoughts on “Keeping the Sabbath?”

  1. One of the Sabbath things that comes to my mind is, unsurprisingly, worship. I suppose that easily overlaps with the “reflection” and “friendship” categories. However one parses it out, I’m a strong advocate of daily worship (rather than the murky pop-christian language of “quiet time”), with one day a week (Sunday) having an extended emphasis as well. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to spread out the sabbath – that’s part of our new covenant freedom – but it does help to concentrate a lot of it into one day. No-email-Saturday and Sunday-morning-church sound like a nifty pairing of sabbath observances to me.

    1. Okay – yes and I agree that if my “spread out Sabbath” encourages a compartmentalized view of worship or rest, that it won’t be truly restful, and basically amount to nothing more than “taking a break” between my own self-directed pursuits. In truth, it’s important for the Sabbath (and Church and worship) to re-orient my wandering priorities to God’s priorities. I think that is one of the more important Sabbath principles that I want to take care of.

  2. Beth, I think you’re wise not to try to do a full on Sabbath one day a week, because scriptures teaches that Jesus is now our rest and we are with him all the time. Our Sabbath practices are fulfilled in him and our relationship with him, so those things you mention doing are all Sabbath if they are all done in his name.

    Thanks for helping me think abut this today.


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