This year Christmas fell on a Sunday. ("You're welcome" - sincerely, Captain Obvious)
It turned out to be a lovely Christmas, but this year with two kids our lives feel very busy. Christmas was no exception.
I thought it was interesting to have a Sunday Christmas, because normally Sunday is sort of like a holiday anyway. So I wondered if it would feel any less like a "real holiday". Or, if because it fell on a Sunday, it would feel more restful than most Sundays actually end up being for most of us?
While it turned out to be pretty inconsequential that it was a Sunday Christmas (it wasn't really a big deal either way), it did bring to light the fact that in my household we don't normally respect the Sabbath as I would like to. Or more accurately: as the Scriptures shows us how to.
Being parents of two and working a fairly demanding job, as well as keeping up freelance projects and making plenty of time for our immediate family has left both my wife and I feeling pretty drained. (Especially her, since she bears so much of the weight of our infant and toddler.)
Life seems to be accelerating at an alarming rate, and I seem to be getting less and less refreshed as seasons pass. Largely in part, I believe, to failing to allow proper time for being refueled as I was created to do.
So in light of this years "Sabbath Christmas", Ashley and I have decided committed to regularly practicing taking a true Sabbath each week.
What's a Sabbath Anyway
A biblical Sabbath is a day each week devoted to rest and worship. It was defined for us by God as we read the Genesis account of creation where on the seventh day God rested from His work.
It is further patterned for us in the Old Testament in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and referenced throughout the Old Testament.
In the New Testament, Jesus affirms the practice of Sabbath while rebuking the way the religious leaders at the time were implementing it in very legalistic fashion
But much of the rest of the New Testament letters outside the Gospels barely mention the Sabbath, and in modern American Christianity today we have largely ignored the true significance and spirit of the Sabbath.
In my experience with churches and Christians in America, the Sabbath is generally looked at this way: It's a day we try to make sure we go to church, and then do whatever we want the rest of the day - whatever that means to each person.
Biblical Purpose for Sabbath
But what my wife and I have committed to is something a little different than this popular definition - something we are convinced is profoundly important to a healthy life physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And something we are convinced we were created for.
In the truest sense, the Sabbath was given for the purpose of rest and renewal of the whole person. Not just physical rest, but to include physical rest. Not just spiritual renewal, but to include spiritual renewal.
I was listening to an audiobook the other day where founder of the Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, Rob Bell said this of the Sabbath:
The Sabbath is a day for your work to be finished, even if it is not... The Sabbath is a day to remember that God sustains the universe, not you.
The Sabbath is a day to stop working, stop doing what I do all the rest of the week (being productive, being creative, doing things) and just be, just play, just enjoy.
For a large part it's going to be a shift in mentality, more than it will be in practice. It may not look a whole lot different for us than what our normal Sunday's have looked like (except we are considering finding a church where we can worship on Saturday nights so Sunday will be more free for rest and play), but it will be a complete shift in how we mentally approach the day.
The simple goal of our "new Sabbath" practice is going to be to simply enjoy God and the fact that we have life, enjoy having life, enjoy our family, and to pause from everything we normally do, and just be.