We started talking yesterday about keeping the Sabbath holy, in answer to a question from a friend.
I suggested that the first way is to acknowledge the day.
2. Celebrate the story. For Moses, there are two stories connected to keeping the Sabbath, one going back to creation, one going back to Egypt. (See Telling The Stories). These two stories link sabbath distinctiveness to rest and freedom. But we don’t remember the meaning of the day without telling the stories.
It’s easy to fall into “Here’s what not to do” prescriptiveness. We do it all the time. Rather than latching onto “be healthier”, we come up with a list of things to not eat and not do. We check things off. And yes, there ended up being Sabbath rules. But before the rules, the principle. And long after, the affirmation that the sabbath was made for people, not people for the sabbath.
So we need to reflect on rest and holiness within the stories.
3. Take off your shoes. When Moses was in the wilderness and turned aside to see a bush aflame, he heard God say to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. I’ve heard a variety of explanations of why. Some are interesting. But there wasn’t a long explanation of why the appropriate response to holy ground is sandal removal. There was a simple “do this” and Moses did it. There was an action of respect.
I think that keeping a day holy involves some actions of respect. Beyond acknowledging, beyond story-telling.
4. Eat. Okay. Eating isn’t part of the sabbath instruction. But it is part of most of the festivals God outlines, it’s part of what Jesus does with people, it’s part of what Jesus says will happen after time. Eating is communal, it’s extravagant, it takes work to prepare, but isn’t work itself.
So read a story, take off your shoes, get a snack and we’ll talk more tomorrow.
(And I love the emails I’m getting about this. You rock.)