Fresh air.

In a few weeks, I plan to run past a beach. After the race, I’ll go back and stand on the beach, breathing in the Atlantic air. It will be cold in Maine in November. The air will bite a bit. It will have a salty edge. It will be distinctive.

There is an immense purity to that ocean air. Not emptiness, or sterileness, but air full of something we call “fresh.”

I thought about that ocean air as I was thinking about a question I got last week.

The question was about the commandment in Exodus 20 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”. What does it mean “to keep it holy”? What do I have to do to “keep it holy”? Someone visiting church service last Sunday said ‘visiting church service is the way to keep it holy’. But I’m actually not sure this may be the whole thing, but only one possible way. So if you have a little spare time and some ideas, I would be thankful if you share both with me.

beachBeing holy is one of those words that contains its own definition. I never exactly know how to explain it simply. But maybe it’s like that pure ocean air, that gets more powerful as you move from the land closer  to the beach, that invites you, sometimes compels you, to stop, overwhelmed. Air that’s not confined to a building.

So how do we keep a day holy?

1. Acknowledge the day. If we treat all days the same, if we drive past all the beaches, if we never get out at the rest area, we aren’t aware at all of the wind. If we let a day be clear, there is space to stop and breath. And every time I stop that way, I am blown away.

(I’ll have more tomorrow.)

12 thoughts on “Fresh air.

  1. Rich Dixon

    Perhaps your friend was onto something about “visiting a church.” When we do a tour and visit a new church I notice stuff I miss at home. I take time to stop and, as you say, breathe in the details. There’s always an extra sense that “Oh, yeah, Jesus is here” that comes when you set time aside. Doesn’t need to be church, of course, or even Sunday.


    1. Jon Swanson

      I love your picture, Rich, of stopping and noticing. My guess is that people do the same thing walking into your church, and that this week, when you come in after being away, you will notice details. And community.


  2. Bill

    You hit on a key element of the answer for me – to make a day somehow different than the others.

    I can think of the things I would like not to do to make a day holy, spend it thinking about the things I have to do the next day, pack it with scheduled tasks and to-do’s that absorb the time and make the day pass without my ability to sit and think, spend the day checking email and watching Facebook on and off.

    So, maybe making a day holy is not just about inviting God into that day, but creating space to make sure you can hear His voice. A slower pace and freedom of calendar will do that for me.



    1. Jon Swanson

      you know, Bill, when I read your comment about thinking about the next day, what if we prepared for a day different in the same way? If we planned to clear the day? If we scheduled the down time as carefully as we scheduled the full time. I don’t mean filling it. But intentionally not filling it. Thanks for helping me think.


  3. Jane A Pierpont (@janeshp)

    When our children were growing up we tried keeping the Lord’s Day a special day… set aside…to worship and praise HIM.
    We did not change our clothes for play or relaxing (more to help them keep in mind His Day was special) They could go out for walks (maybe a fast walk 😉 for them) read, listen to worshipful music, we did not turn on the TV until after the evening service. One time we decided to go to the beach and go swimming, but that did not work for us and we never did it again.We just felt Sunday was reserved for resting or serving HIM. We often went calling on shut-ins or had nursing home service some Sundays or we have other families over for fellowship. Now that they are in their own ministries Hubby and I still do pretty much the same thing ourselves with a little nap squeezed in… 80 and 76…. ZZZZZZZZZ


    1. Jon Swanson

      The way you describe it, Jane, has none of the legalism that gets associated with the kind of quiet day you are describing. Often, the pattern turned into rules with no explanation. Thanks for speaking from inside the approach.

      And I understand the naps very well.


  4. josephruizjr

    I think of holy as set apart, so it’s a day no like the others. Once I worked 7 days a week life had no rhythm because every day was the same it was awful. It’s a day to rest, worship. I like what Bill says about creating space to hear, perhaps it’s about connecting.


  5. Christoph

    This question is running up und down my brain for weeks now and I’m not sure about the starting direction to think about it. So I’m glad you give it a start here. Thanks.


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