Sunday Shorts: July 23, 2017
Sunday Shorts are a brief rewind of Kaleo's weekly gatherings intended to equip the kommunity to live into what we're exploring together throughout the week.
X: TEN WORDS FOR THE CONTRAST COMMUNITY [PART FOUR]
8 You and your family are to remember the Sabbath Day; set it apart, and keep it holy. 9 You have six days to do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is to be different; it is the Sabbath of the Eternal your God. Keep it holy by not doing any work—not you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, or any outsiders living among you. 11 For the Eternal made the heavens above, the earth below, the seas, and all the creatures in them in six days. Then, on the seventh day, He rested. That is why He blessed the Sabbath Day and made it sacred.
A CONFESSIONAL APPROACH
As I [Justin] listened to and engaged this fourth word [we're spending the summer exploring then ten liberating words found in Exodus 20 often referred to as the Ten Commandments], I found myself in the midst of both deep need and deep desire. Even though I've learned much about this practice over time, the interesting nuances of it, and how various people have practiced it, I became vividly aware of my current state, my current lack of rhythmic living, and the accompanying consequences. Instead of living into the rest + work rhythm of liberation, I observed that my life had more in common with this scene from Radiohead's song The Tourist:
Sometimes I get overcharged. That's when you see sparks. They ask me where the hell I'm going at a thousand feet per second. Hey man, slow down. Slow down. Idiot, slow down. Slow down.
Radiohead, The Tourist
I share this all to say that what comes next is the product of such observation, and an attempt to get at something more than mere information as it relates to the fourth word, Sabbath.
WHAT THE TEXT SAYS
First, notice what the text says. Remember the Sabbath day. Throughout the biblical story, the idea of remembering is always tied to action. Always. So this call to remember is something more than a suggestion to intellectually ponder the idea of Sabbath. The intention is that those who've been liberated would actually experience that liberation in Sabbath rest. And the text pushes this idea forward by talking about this day being different, set apart from other days when work is the norm, holy. It also states that this practice of delightful rest is for all that has been created - all people, all living things, regardless of the status conferred upon them by their host society [The Sabbath principle is expanded in the biblical story to include even the land.]. And it bases this practice in God's very own being, and activity in Creation [Notice Genesis 2:2-3.]. In other words, liberation invites all into the essence and quality and practice of life that exists in God. Delight. Rest. The ability to look back upon a week's work and be satisfied. The ability to live in confidence that there is enough of everything.
JESUS' TAKE ON SABBATH
Hopefully we find what we've heard thus far to be compelling. At the same time, though, it makes sense to consider Jesus' take on the Sabbath, as he is the One we follow, and as some may wonder if such an ancient instruction had any bearing for him, or for us [Related to this, it's worth noting that the Creation example of Sabbath and God's practice of it pre-dates any giving of law.]. So let's look at Jesus' own life and relationship to Sabbath. Throughout the gospels we find him interacting with this practice in a variety of ways. And one way that stands out is his healing work that takes places on Sabbath. Throughout the four gospel accounts we find seven events of Jesus healing on the Sabbath, a number that often speaks to fullness, and as such at least begs the question, was the gospel material organized in such a way as to draw attention to this, to the possibility of Jesus and his life giving us a full picture of what Sabbath is about? In any case, his actions and words make it clear that this is indeed the case, for in Mark 2:27 Jesus says "The Sabbath was made for the needs of human beings, and not the other way around." In other words, the Sabbath is all about healing and wholeness and flourishing, is the way of life for those who've been liberated by God, which is in deep alignment with what we find in the more ancient texts.
So in light of all of this we find the following: Sabbath is in our bones. Sabbath is resistance. Sabbath is a practice. Sabbath is a contrast. As has already been said, we are made for Sabbath. It's part of our makeup. It's in our bones. In a recent online conversation AJ Swoboda spoke to this when he said "To not Sabbath is to genetically alter our humanity." Another way to consider this would be to ask, "What can we take away from what's created, what we find in the Creation poem of Genesis 1, and still expect the world to fully function?" The answer is nothing. No sun, no life. No water, no life. Etc. So why do I think I can survive without Sabbath? Sabbath is in our bones. Sabbath is also an act of resistance. Walter Brueggemann speaks to this more fully in his writing, but in short this act of resting is resistance to anxiety, to coercion, to exclusivism and to the myth of multi-tasking. In addition to being what we're created for, and resistance, Sabbath is also something we practice, and therefore something we'll have to learn to do through time and experimentation. Here are a few ways that others are leaning into this life giving practice:
Start. Do what you can. A half-day Sabbath is better than none. And some have said that it takes twenty one days for those who are in recovery from burnout to find their new normal. It may take twenty one Sabbaths for it to feel normal.
Try to use the twenty one block grid [blocks for morning, afternoon and evening of each day of the week] at the top of this weekly planning sheet, to find three back to back to back blocks of time to set aside for delightful rest.
Turn off the devices. This isn't a matter of legalism or vilifying technology. It's just a fact that our devices fight against rest.
View Sabbath as opposite day. Do the opposite of what you spend your week working on.
Here are a few other things you may want to consider:
Prepare food beforehand so that you don't have to cook on the Sabbath. This could happen as a few friends get together to pre-create meals they really like that are freezable.
If you are raising children with a spouse, you may want to create space in the day when each person can lean into what feels restful for them. This isn't to suggest that the entire family be separate for this day, but moments throughout the day that give one another space may be helpful. Talk to one another, make a plan and try it out. Here's a question to get the conversation and planning started: When you have a day off with no expectations what do you like to do?
Single parents could collaborate with others, single or married, to create a day of rest. For instance, their kids could play with other kids for a bit to give them space, quiet and rest. Again, talk this over with friends and make a plan.
A community, or group of friends could help those they're planted among who are poor and don't feel they can take time off work by collectively providing a days wages for that person, freeing up time for rest.
Finally, Sabbath is a beautiful contrast. A beautiful contrast to the narratives that people are only what they produce. A beautiful contrast to the over anxious and over medicated culture we live in. A beautiful contrast, for our own benefit and for those we're planted among. Sabbath's contrast, which is rooted in the character of God, expresses the good news of who God is and God's posture of love towards us all. May we live in this good news, and may our lives proclaim it in our neighborhoods and networks.