It’s that time of week again… Sunday is back!
The “Sabbath rest” has been given a variety of meanings. For the Jews, it has always meant a rigorous abstinence from various forms of physical activities. For many Christians, it means not working their normal job on Sundays…
This idea has caused some pretty intense discussions in different families I know, when one of the spouses either wants to do something on Sunday that the other believes is “work”, or when one of them HAS to work on Sunday because their job offers them no alternative.
Neither of these practices adequately demonstrates the significance of the Sabbath rest.
I believe the Sabbath rest goes much deeper than what physical activity we do or don’t do. Refraining from physical activity is valuable only to the extent that it helps free us up to focus on the true meaning of the Sabbath, and the real Sabbath rest, which deals with the heart, mind and soul more than with the body.
I believe that the REAL essence of the Sabbath rest lies in a peaceful spirit that comes from truly knowing, loving and LIVING our faith. Here are some things that I associate with living the “Sabbath rest”.
- Faith. This may seem obvious, but it’s important. The tradition of the Sabbath rest began with the story of creation. God rested on the 7th day. Sunday should always remind us of our faith in God and all he has done for us, from creation onward.
- Hope in the Resurrection. As Christians, we are people of the Resurrection. We believe in the Resurrection and know that we are part of it. Our own salvation has begun; it will reach its fulfillment when we experience our personal resurrection, which is only possible because of the Lord’s resurrection. Every Sunday should remind us of the greatness of this event, and the greatness to which we are called as the people of God who will one day participate fully in his Resurrection and be with him in Heaven.
- Charity. Above all, Sunday is a day to remember that God is love. He created us out of love, came to earth out of love, died for us out of love, and will return for us out of love.
- Trust. It’s very easy to spend most, if not all of the week, trusting in ourselves. I don’t think I’m alone in this. We try to control our lives. We try to live responsibly. We are responsible for how we do at work, for how well we take care of the house, for how many opportunities we give our kids (education, entertainment, social, personal…), etc. We make choices. From what we eat, to what we wear, to how we decorate our homes… Our entire life starts to revolve around US. The Sabbath rest is an invitation for us to step back and remember that life revolves around God. We need to trust HIM. Trust doesn’t exist in a vacuum – if we want to have it at all, we need to have it ALL the time, not just on Sundays.
- Communication with God. The center of the Sabbath is worship. We usually associate Sunday worship with Mass, but Sunday should be a DAY of communication with God. Communication doesn’t necessarily mean prayer or being in Church. It might be going for a walk, or spending some time in reflection, or talking with family and friends, or even going out for fun. It’s about finding how YOU connect with God and taking more time than usual for it on Sunday. Just remember that it’s really about finding God and communicating with him, no matter how you do it.
The list could go on and on, and contain every Christian virtue, but I think these are some of the fundamental virtues and attitudes that help us live the spirit of the Sabbath, in addition to fulfilling the “law” of the Sabbath… What helps you celebrate the Sabbath?
Don’t forget to check back soon for my new e-book on Church history… I’ll be posting it in the next day or two!