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A Closer Look at Sabbath

closer-look-at-sabbath2I remember it very clearly: my husband and I would each drive a 15 passenger van (remember those?) on two different routes around the city and pick people up for church on Sunday. Sunday School was at 9:30 (we each taught a class) and Holiness Meeting at 11:00 (we alternated preaching).  Immediately after the morning meeting, we served lunch for around 100 homeless individuals from the community. We had a Salvation Meeting right after lunch, around the tables. And then we drove everyone home. We’d arrive home in the early evening and collapse. Sunday = Sabbath? I think not.

It took us a while to wise up and start taking a weekday for ourselves. Most likely on that day we did something fun with our toddler, caught up on laundry and housework, maybe took a nap and probably spent a little time thinking about next week’s sermon. Again, was it really a Sabbath?

So what is Sabbath? And what does it look like in our very active Salvationist lives?

Over the next several months, the Spiritual Life Development department will be sharing articles, book reviews, and personal reflections on Sabbath from a variety of perspectives, including those from the Task Force papers.

My own cursory research turned up the following:

Wikipedia:

“According to Exodus 20:8 the Sabbath is commanded by God to be kept as a holy day of rest, as God rested from creation.”

Power Thesaurus lists these synonyms for Sabbath:

  • Day of rest
  • Saturday
  • Sunday
  • Day of worship
  • Day off
  • Fast
  • Feast
  • Holy day
  • Rest day
  • Weekend

Dictionary.com:

− A day of rest and worship; Sunday for most Christians; Saturday for Jews; Friday for Muslims.

− The seventh year, observed among the Israelites as one of rest and festival.

− (figurative) a time of rest or repose; intermission of pain, effort, sorrow or the like

− A season or day of rest; one day in seven appointed for rest or worship, the observance of which was enjoined upon the Jews and has been continued by the Christian church; also called the Lord’s Day.

 

Last year, Commissioner Barry Swanson convened a Territorial Task Force on Sabbath to look at this subject in the context of Salvation Army life. Several papers were written, research was done, a survey was taken of USA Eastern officers and the topic was looked into at length. It’s been an enlightening experience for everyone involved in the process and we still have a long way to go.

As a new year begins, it is important for us to look at this topic and ask ourselves some questions:

What is Sabbath? What does it mean for me? My family? My congregation? What is God’s intention for Sabbath? What needs to happen in my own life in order for me to truly honor the 5th commandment and receive the blessing that God intends me to receive through observing the Sabbath?

Over the next several months, the Spiritual Life Development department will be sharing articles, book reviews, and personal reflections on Sabbath from a variety of perspectives, including those from the Task Force papers. Our prayer is that you will take some time to look into Sabbath, reflect on it and discover what God is saying to you.

 

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