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Sabbath Rest & Renewal: So Inviting, So Elusive

by Linda Morningstar, Associate Director, Lifelong Learning

How many times have you said to yourself, "I am going to bring some balance to my life, and set aside one day a week for rest and renewal." Or, "In our family, we are going to get off this busy-ness merry-go-round and practice Sabbath every week."

But then... you don't follow through.

Sabbath rest and renewal: So inviting. So difficult to make happen.

I learned some valuable, practical ways to move the concept of Sabbath from a good intention to an actual habit, during a weekend retreat led by Julie Johnson awhile back. Julie is spiritual director and retreat leader at HolyCreek Ministries in north Georgia. Give some of the following ideas a try.

And, learn much more about the practice of Sabbath during our "Living into Sabbath" seminar led by Wayne Muller, October 30-November 4. For details or to register, click here and scroll down to October 30.

Start small
Set aside three hours you will honor as sacred each week. Plan Sabbath-like ways to use this time. Ink it onto your calendar; allow nothing to interfere with this three hours. Commit to this practice for just four weeks, as a beginning.

Make It a "Snow Day"
You know what it's like, when there's an ice storm, and no one can leave home? You drop your routines. You do whatever you wish. You don't follow a plan. You read, play games, snooze, gaze out the window. Just so is the gift of Sabbath – one day a week that is yours –all yours – a God-given "snow day."

Remember it's about relationship
When we are in love with someone, we respond to what that person thinks is important. If I am in love with God – and resting on the seventh day is important to God – I will rest on the seventh day, just as a lover would do for her lover.

Receive Sabbath as a needed gift
God created Sabbath rest because we need it. It's good for us! Yes, work is a gift and an honor – but being overworked is not honorable. If you don't know who you are apart from your work, it could be you are overworked!

Mark its beginning with ritual
Take off your watch. Light a candle. Say, "Let there be light." Slow, deep breath.

Embrace Sabbath's freedoms
Freedom FROM daily work, homework, routine. Freedom from "shoulds." ("Don't should on yourself," Johnson advises.) Freedom from worry; trust in God to provide. ("Worry is an unhealthy use of your imagination," Johnson says.)
When worrying thoughts press in, try this: Tell yourself, "I am going to stop worrying about this for this one day."

Freedom FOR rest. Prayer and worship. Family. Friends. Hospitality. Play and fun. Examine your "kin-dom" values, Johnson suggests. It's not easy to practice Sabbath by yourself. Sabbath is made for community. Plan Sabbath with your kin.

Be a witness
When others see you trusting God to provide for you on the Sabbath, you are a witness that God provides.