Saturday, October 29, 2011

Our "Best" Sabbath

In a previous post (long ago), I promised to post some specifics about how to spend the Sabbath.  I had hoped to have other people chime in on this, since obedience to the 4th Commandment in this way is still so new to me, but this never materialized.  So, what follows is my "Best" Sabbath: the way I would ideally spend any given Sunday.

It is important when suggesting specific ways in which the Sabbath can be lived out not to recreate the casuistry of the Pharisees.  We must remember, on the one hand, that the Sabbath was made and commanded for our benefit and for our good (Mark 2:27; Deut 10:13).   It is one key to joy and freedom.  On the other hand, we must also remember that it is a command from God and that there have been some guidelines given for it in both the OT and NT.  There is freedom in obedience to this command, room for varied opinions, but there are also fences to it.  I would encourage you to read my previous posts on this and to investigate for yourself the Sabbath commands in the OT in order to discern how we might apply them today.  

Keeping the tension above in mind, what I'd like to do in this post is share with you what it looks like for me and my family to practice the Sabbath.  What I'll put forward here is not exhaustive, nor is it meant to be binding, as if it were a command from the Scriptures; it is the way that one man tries to lead his family into joy and freedom under this commandment.  And I must say this:  try as we might, we still do not do all these things every Sunday.  I wish we did, and we are trying to do them more.  As I said above, what I am presenting here is our "best" Sabbath.  
  • Evening Prayer on Saturday Night: When the sun goes down on Saturday night (or when the baby goes down!), my wife and I will sit in our living room and pray together using the prayer service from the Book of Common Prayer.  There are three different formats for evening prayer given in the BCP, and we've used all three.  Having a form to stick to helps us immensely, and I would highly encourage using a fixed format.  You can "riff" off it, but in my experience, without a plan, most good ideas don't get executed.  So, if we can, we begin our Sunday with prayer and reading from Scripture on Saturday night before bed.   This is following an Eastern model: the beginning of a day is the evening before.
  • Rise Early:  Even though I have duties at church on Sunday, I still try to get up early and read a Psalm (either Ps 95 or Ps 100, or the appointed Psalm for that morning) before I walk to church.  Also, if you can walk, I would highly recommend it. I do not watch TV before going to church.  I do read the news online but only because, as a pastor, I need to make sure nothing major has happened in the world that needs to be addressed during the service.  (Can you imagine if another 9/11 happened, and the preacher was totally unaware!?) 

  • Always go to Church:  Even when we are on vacation, my wife and I have decided that we will always attend church on the Lord's Day.  No matter where we are, we are going to gather with any believers who are around and offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God. (Heb 10:24,25) 
  • Don't buy anything on Sunday:  This is a new thing for me as of this year, but I try to avoid going out to lunch on Sundays.  I also try to avoid buying anything.  The idea here is that this day is meant for worship and for rest, and that if I'm going to the store, I am complicit in someone else working on this day.
  • Have people over for lunch:  I love having people over for lunch after church.  Sometimes I can get carried away (I need to consider my wife's introverted nature!), but if I could, I would invite someone over for lunch every Sunday.  It is a day meant to be spent with community!
  • Talk about the things of God:  I try to make an intentional effort to discuss with whoever is around  things of God: whether it is his Word, the sermon that day, the beauty of nature or of humanity.  Sometimes I'll talk with friends about a book we've read or something to that effect.
  • Read the Bible: I try to use Sundays as a day where I do some extra Bible reading.  For people who have very busy lives and who don't seem to have any time during the week for Scripture reading, I would highly recommend taking a few hours on Sunday to read and talk to God about what you're reading. One Sunday this fall, we invited some friends over to read aloud the Book of Acts.  It took a few hours, but we sat in the back yard on a beautiful day... it was awesome.
  • Nap:  I love taking a nap on Sunday in the afternoon.  When the weather's nice, the hammock is my spot.
  • No TV:  I try to unplug as much as possible on Sundays and that includes the TV.  The idea here is to have godly thoughts and discussion on the Lord's day.
  • Good food and drink:  Every Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, and it is always a feast day! So, I drink a good amount of good beer on Sundays.  We try to eat good food and have large desserts.  When our son gets old enough, Sundays will be candy days!
  • Dinner together:  We try to have a big meal on Sunday night if possible.  
So, there are some of the things we try to do around the Bost house on Sundays.  (I would add that once dinner is over and the kiddo is down on Sunday night, we get to work again.  Both my wife and I have work that requires us to start on Sunday nights.)

So, what does your family do on Sundays? Are you trying to obey this commandment as best you can?  Have you experienced how good it really is?