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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sleep, Shabbat, Spirituality

God rested on the seventh day.  Not entirely sure what that looked like for God to rest but it does appear that it involved a cessation from the creating, naming and guidance work of the previous six days. I wonder, was God rejuvenated on the Sabbath. Rest normally constitutes relaxation or leisure.  What did that look like for God?

Eventually God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, that have been passed down to us.  Of the 10, one of them says, "Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy."  He wanted his people to rest  Again, a cursory glance leaves us with questions like "How are we to observe the Sabbath?" and "What does it mean to keep it holy?" but it is pretty well understood that the Sabbath is a day of rest modeled on God's seventh day of rest.

Jesus observed the Sabbath albeit not within the generally accepted religious norms of the day, as he and his disciples brought consternation on themselves from time to time for their unorthodox observances.  But he did observe it.  He didn't do away with it.

Several years ago I thought I began to see signs in the Christian culture that the Sabbath was going to make a revival — not anymore.  Shabbat seems to be shot.  Everyone is busy — every day and in some cases, at night.  People are tired and in desperate need of rest.  Perhaps God was onto something with the Sabbath idea.

Through some personal experiences and observances of others, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that our spiritual life and ability to connect with God and His people is greatly hindered with inadequate rest.  Our ability to pray, worship, read the Scriptures and relate with those around us is deeply affected by our "restedness quotient".  A vibrant healthy spirituality involves some version of Sabbath in our lives.

I'm not entirely sure how it is to be lived.  I don't have the answers for my questions about the fourth (or third if you're Catholic) commandment yet.  But I am convinced that we must begin to seriously wrestle with the truth of God resting and commanding us to rest.  I don't think it just means taking time off from our paid job to do the work/chores/stuff around the house that needs our attention.  Nor is it to ignore those two things for us to do work in the church.

Sometimes when advising people to begin tithing, they are encouraged to begin to become faithful in something small, like 1% of their take home pay.  And then they are encouraged to increase it by a percentage point every year working their way toward 10% or more.

I wonder what it might look like in our lives to begin to devote "10%" of a day toward keeping the Sabbath holy and increasingly working toward a full day of Sabbath.  Let's begin by giving reflection to what does it mean to observe and keep the Sabbath holy, and what does it mean to profane the Sabbath?

Sleepy teens: Technology hurting sleep quality - chicagotribune.com

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