The Hard Work of Sabbath-Keeping


Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Exodus 20:8

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

Sabbath is
Entering God’s rest
Dropping our beliefs that Sabbath keeping is doing nothing
Shedding our professional skins
Risking that the world will survive while we are off the clock
Being with one who knows us well
Experiencing salvation more fully

Symptoms of Sabbath Ignoring
Believing that time is way too short for what God’s called us to do – kingdom panic!
Dryness in our preaching and worship leadership
Glazed over eyes when someone is sharing his/her story
Heightened escape fantasies
Cringing when the phone rings or a text bings
Believing that if we work harder the world will be saved

Strangely, Sabbath-keeping is hard work.

In 2006, we brought Glenn Hinson to South Carolina to lead a group of ministers in a Summer Sabbath experience. To my chagrine, the spiritually savvy Hinson insisted that we observe silence from 9PM through breakfast the next morning. Didn’t he know we wanted to talk to lots of people there? But, you can guess what happened. The simple discipline of silence helped still the constant self-talk in our minds enough to begin connecting with the One who lives in and beyond the silence.

This summer I’m serving as a sabbatical pastor, pinch hitting Sunday-Tuesday for a pastoral colleague who’s on sabbatical. This church is pursuing the theme of Sabbath in worship all summer as well. I have to admit, I’m struggling. My defaults when it comes to preaching are to hold up the mission of God, encouraging and cajoling any way I can we disciples to rise up and participate with God’s world makeover. But….Sabbath is another thing altogether. To practice Sabbath requires great faith, believing God can handle it while we are off the clock. This summer my baggage related to works righteousness and this can-do relationship to faith is rising to the surface. Practicing Sabbath requires faith and trust in almighty God, surprisingly so.

So, may we all work hard at Sabbath-keeping, finding that Jesus’ yoke is easy and burden is light.

Mark Tidsworth, President, PLA

Helen