Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sabbath rest

In "Human Flourishing," an essay directed primarily to university students, Danielle Sallade commends the importance of a Sabbath:
.... I believe we would be greatly aided in living out our actual dependence upon God (which, like the Israelites in the wilderness, we all too easily forget) if the body of Christ today would make Sabbath-keeping a priority. Most of the Christian students I work among and most of my Christian peers do not take an intentional Sabbath, nor have they been taught much theology undergirding the practice of Sabbath-keeping. And one reason is that our society as a whole has lost any notion of one day a week being set apart for something different than all the rest (with all stores and entertainment venues open, recreational sports leagues in full swing Saturday and Sunday, etc., so that our societal striving and consuming continues seven days a week). Many students attend a service on Sunday morning, but the rest of the day is for school work. On our campus the libraries are the most crowded on Sunday, with Saturday being taken up by social events and extracurricular activities. So outside of the time spent in a service, the cycle of hard work and maxed-out activity does not stop.

For students who are preparing for an unknown career in an unknown place, it is such a challenge not to think that you have to work hard to craft your future by working in the present. But with a weekly day of rest, we can take the focus off of ourselves and place it back, rightfully, on God. Marva Dawn writes,
In our twentieth-century spirituality we easily lose the notion of God’s provision for us because of our advanced civilization and its distance from the actual processes that provide material goods. A major blessing of Sabbath keeping is that it forces us to rely on God for our future. On that day, we do nothing to create our own way. We abstain from work, from our incessant need to produce and accomplish, from all the anxieties about how we can be successful in all that we have to do to get ahead. The result is that we can let God be God in our lives.
We can train ourselves, like the Israelites feeding on manna, to be confident that God is providing for us today and will surely provide for us tomorrow.

Attending a worship service on our Sabbath-day also reminds us that our identity is rooted in Christ and not in our work. “In our culture, which attaches such a grand importance to work and productivity, our weekly ceasing reminds us that the value of work lies not in itself, nor in the worth it gives us, but in the worship of God that takes place in it.” So worship lifts our gaze toward God and reveals our sins that we let creep into our work. And we can recommit ourselves to working with God and for God as the new week begins. Corporate worship on the Sabbath also brings us into physical contact with our other family members in the body of Christ. So we are visibly reminded of our place in the community and our responsibility for helping take care of the needs of those around us. Again, our focus is drawn outward and we can see the sins of self and repent. .... [more]
Christ on Campus Initiative - The Gospel Coalition