Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tranquility, serenity, peace and repose

Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.
Exodus 20:9-10
"Six days of labor will feed and clothe the body; Sabbath labor will starve the soul." The underlying principle and God-ordained purpose of the Sabbath is rest. .... The idea of rest has high Biblical authority, and it means far more than just physical relaxation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes: "In the Bible 'rest' really means more than 'having a rest.' It means rest after the work is accomplished, it means completion, it means the perfection and peace of God in which the world rests, it means transformation, it means turning our eyes absolutely upon God's being God and towards worshipping him." And Heschel writes: "'Menuha' which we usually render with `rest' means here much more than withdrawal from labor and exertion, more than freedom from toil, strain or activity of any kind. `Menuha' is not a negative concept but something real and intrinsically positive.... it took a special act of creation to bring it into being, ... the universe would be incomplete without it. What was created on the seventh day? Tranquility, serenity, peace and repose." .... Consecrated rest, thus understood, demands also consecrated work—six days of worldly toil that give one the satisfaction of having completed his assigned task in God's plan. The Sabbath gives time for one to reflect on the accomplishments of his work and to glory in their completion. Man "can consecrate his work," writes [A.H.] Lewis, "and from the Sabbath he may renew the eternal life which shall help him to give some sabbatic quality to the work days." As Heschel writes: "The Sabbath is the inspirer, the other days the inspired."
Rev. Herbert E. Saunders, The Sabbath: Symbol of Creation and Re-Creation, American Sabbath Tract Society, 1970.

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