Since June, my husband Greg and I have been in the process of learning Sabbath—practicing Sabbath so that we learn how to do Sabbath well.
In Scripture, Sabbath is a command—an ancient one. Since the beginning, we learn that God rested and that He invited us to do the same, for our worth is not dependent on how much we produce or how much we are doing for the kingdom. God invites us to experience our human-being, and belovedness.
Sabbath is quite wonderful yet it truly takes practice! It’s been a real task to slow down when our normal has been an on-the-go, somewhat chaotic pace for a good chunk of our adult lives. Resisting the urge to do and to accomplish is the biggest challenge. Truly, learning to Sabbath well is an ongoing process.
Because we’re learning, we’ve turned to the wisdom of a few authors who write about Sabbath. In Mark Buchanan’s The Rest Of God, he writes about “ceasing from that which is necessary.” This line hit a chord because it affirms the truth that nothing we do can cause God to love us more deeply. We’ve put these words up in our home to remind us of this and have now intentionally ceased from a number of things on our weekly Sabbath Saturdays including no dishes, (and for a neat-freak like me, that’s hard)! This, plus other little adjustments seem minor, but they truly make space to rest and experience the present moment.
Another piece of learned wisdom comes from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, An Altar in the World, where she titles one chapter: The Practice of Saying No (Sabbath). I love that. Sabbath is about saying no and resisting things, activities and people to make space for God. Taylor writes, “One day each week, More God is the only thing on my list.” This prompted Greg and I to determine what we can say yes to on our Saturdays. We intentionally say yes to: reflection, worship and reading scripture, time together and apart, time in nature, no plans and delighting in simple life pleasures like delicious food or reading a great book. It’s so simple yet this practice of saying no has slowed our life-pace for one day each week, which continues to nourish and sustain us in incredible ways.
As I experience the Christmas season, I’m so often sucked into a “doing-frenzy” and a consumerist mind-set. Yet, Advent beckons me and us to a posture of waiting, wonder, awe, and patience as we anticipate Christ. I hope to bring my Sabbath practice into Advent and say no to things that may feel necessary but take me further from the miraculous story of Christ and the Spirit dwelling among us. May we say no to the extra, and yes to MORE God this Advent!