Sabbath-Keeping: Practicing Openness

“You don’t have to try so hard. You don’t have to bend until you break.” I hear these words through my car radio and they fill my soul. Colbie Caillat’s song “Try” is not a theological treatise by any means, but it sure is insightful!

Trying describes today’s teens. As I work in a youth group setting I see first-hand how they try. They are trying to: get good grades, earn money, make friends, beat records, get scholarships, help their family, get a car, and even to escape pain. They’re busy. They’re following the adult model. We all want the best. We all want to be the best. We will pay great prices to get and be the best.

The word “Sabbath” is foreign to us. Teens may or may not attend church, but they are likely to do homework Sunday afternoon or evening. Many will even work a paid job on the day that would ordinarily have been set aside to rest. When I wanted a job as a high school senior, I felt that my only option was to make myself available every day of the week. Our culture has lost what it is to pray and play together once a week. Our week is consumed by our busyness. We do not know Sabbath.

Sabbath is a time of intentionally pausing from work and turning toward intimacy with God and neighbor. It is a time instead to rely on God as provider. Remember how the Israelites—wandering in the desert—could not gather manna on Sabbath? It is also a time of healing. Jesus healed on Sabbath.Sabbath_Keeping_Sarah_Grice-1

Sabbath is for stopping work, loving God and others, and for being healed.

People are hurting for Sabbath. I am hurting for Sabbath. I am only practicing the best I can. As I practice, my ability to slow down and focus on God grows. As I practice, I seek to share this Sabbath practice with others. I need rest. I see that the teens I work with need rest. The adults in these teen’s lives, need rest. We NEED to let the divine healer spend time with us.

We NEED to learn to play and pray together. I need that! Can we be angry when we’re sharing milk and cookies; probably not? In a recent lecture, Dr. Matthew Sleeth speculated that it is impossible to break the 10 Commandments while one is napping. And in her book, “Keeping the Sabbath Wholly,” Marva Dawn made a connection between Sabbath keeping and peacekeeping. She believes that Sabbath keeping teaches us to grow in compassion and understanding with one another. Sabbath keeping in community causes us to play and pray together.

Sabbath has become a deliberate choice. It is a choice that we need to make together once more. I pray that God will honor us as we begin to honor the Sabbath once more.

Sarah Grice, M.Div. ’15, is in her final year at Northeastern Seminary, concentrating on spiritual formation.

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