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The Gift of Rest

The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath
by Senator Joe Lieberman

When someone asked Senator Joe Lieberman: “How can you stop all your work as a senator to observe the Sabbath each week?” He answered: “How could I do all my work as a senator if I did notstop to observe the Sabbath each week?”

As a Christian, I found the detailed description of Shabbat as practiced by an observant Jew to be both informative and inspiring. In his introduction the author states, “The Sabbath is a gift from God to all people. In our time, I believe, it is a gift that is desperately needed.”

Lively descriptions of each portion of a typical Shabbat are lovingly depicted from the author’s memories of celebrating Shabbat as a young child with three generations of family members. He describes the various portions of Shabbat, including Sabbath eve preparations, welcoming the Sabbath, the Sabbath meal, prayers and the reading of God’s Word. Recollections from his childhood are interspersed with stories of his life as a United States senator and how he incorporates Sabbath into his life today.

As much as I enjoyed learning the details of a traditional Sabbath, there was an aspect of this book that I appreciated even more. At the end of each chapter, the author includes a section called Simple Beginnings. On these pages, he shares some simple ways to adopt aspects of Sabbath observance into our own lives.

Most of these are easy to incorporate and they have the potential to be very meaningful as we celebrate our day of rest and honor the Sabbath. Here are a few examples:

  • Unplug from electronic media
  • Don’t wear your watch
  • Light a candle to represent God’s light
  • Sing
  • Review the past week and consider how you can improve your relationships with loved ones, co-workers and God
  • Get outside and enjoy God’s creation
  • Bless your children or other family members
  • Incorporate a simple enjoyable ritual to evoke the specialness of the Sabbath (cinnamon buns?)
  • Take a nap!

This book invites us to consider the positive meaning of rest. It’s not just about not working. It is also about filling with meaningthe mental, physical and spiritual space that is created by not working.

I close with the afternoon prayer – the Amidah – a silent, standing prayer which asks God, “May Your children recognize and know that from You comes their rest, and through their rest, they will sanctify Your name.”

 

written by Lt. Colonel Pat LaBossiere, Secretary for Spiritual Life Development, USA East

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