As in 25 hours per day and 8 days per week, which is a way of saying, too much too much too much. Too often too often too often. Deep in the heart of God is Sabbath, a day of rest. 24 hours, not just Sunday morning, but one whole day. Sundown to sundown.
A day of rest.
Rob Muthiah has a new book that is designed for the 25/8 American lifestyle. It is called The Sabbath Experiment: Spiritual Formation for Living in a Non-Stop World.
Muthiah sketches a theology of Sabbath, in touch especially with both Bible and Jewish literature on Sabbath. Nice short chapters so the 25/8’er has time to read each chp, in the hope it might slow the person down. Clear, biblical, wise, and formed in the experience of Sabbath-ing.
Here is Appendix 1, which can whet your appetite to read the whole book, but go ahead and read this slowly:
For this experiment, choose to begin your Sabbath observance with the evening meal on Saturday night. Saturday night moves easily into celebration and rest because the following morning will not bring with it the pressing demands of regular work days. Many choose to start their Sabbaths on Sunday morning rather than Saturday night, and then make the whole of Sunday evening part of their Sabbath. But it can be difficult to hold onto the Sabbath spirit during the Sunday evening hours as the demands of Monday morning press in. By starting on Saturday night, you can get in a full twenty-four hour Sabbath, end it with the Sunday evening meal, and then start ramping up for the week ahead by catching up on email and attending to other matters for the coming days. So for this experiment, mirror the biblical pattern of the day starting at sundown. You can adjust this to a calendar day later if you wish.
Prepare for Sabbath by getting all your shopping done and your living space put in order before the Saturday evening meal. In planning the menu for Saturday evening, prepare an especially favorite dish to highlight the celebratory nature of the time. Choose and put in place symbols to remind you of the different nature of this time into which you are entering—perhaps an arrangement of fresh flowers, pictures of loved ones, or candles.
At least a couple days in advance, invite others to join you for the Saturday evening meal. Even if only members of your household will join in the meal, specifically invite them, until a Sabbath rhythm is developed. A brief explanation of what your guests are being invited to participate in may keep them from being surprised when the time comes for the Sabbath liturgy to be read just before the Saturday evening meal.
Welcome the Sabbath by joining with others in the Sabbath liturgy before your evening meal on Saturday (see the sample Sabbath liturgy in Appendix 3 and download it from www.TheSabbathExperiment.blogspot.com). This liturgy is adapted from one passed on to my family two decades ago by friends of ours, and we still use it today. It contains some parallels to the Kiddush, the traditional Jewish liturgy used to welcome Sabbath. It also includes elements that point to the work of Christ, reflecting its design for use in a specifically Christian context. You might also consider writing your own liturgy for this purpose!We often have friends present when we do this reading on Saturday evening. Sometimes I’ll let them know in advance that we’ll be doing our usual Sabbath-welcoming ritual. If these friends are not Christian or if I am unsure of their faith background, I invite them to join in at the points where they feel comfortable but to also feel free to just observe.
Embrace the experiment by closely following the specific guidelines in Appendix 2. These guidelines might be rather shocking and disruptive for some, while others will find them to be fairly easy to incorporate. Remember, there is no one right way to observe Sabbath or one mandatory set of guidelines, but for the sake of this experiment, stick to the detailed guidelines provided.
Be sure to choose one thing you will add to or include in your Sabbath that will help it feel like a celebration. Maybe it will be playing music loudly and dancing in the living room, or maybe it will be going for a leisurely walk in a nearby park. Don’t skip this part! It is essential to the tone of the day.
If you’re married, embrace the rabbinic encouragement to have intercourse on the Sabbath. This is another element of celebration and another way of affirming the goodness of what God has created!
Keep in mind that for future weeks you are encouraged to adjust and to experiment with your own set of guidelines. Some find that a cold-turkey approach works for them. They begin by blocking out on the calendar the twenty-four hours each week designated for Sabbath, and then fill in around that twenty-four hour block with the other commitments for the week. Some choose to implement immediately all the elements in the provided guidelines, and may even add to them. Depending on your personality, this approach might work well for you.
Another approach is to develop Sabbath patterns more incrementally. This may involve choosing just a couple of the guidelines to incorporate into the rhythm of your Sabbath and to focus on these for the next few weeks or months. Then add another guideline or two. Even after just a year of this, you will have slowly but dramatically re-calibrated the rhythm of your Sabbath days.
End your Sabbath day together with a simple meal. After the meal, while giving each person something sweet (like a chocolate chip or a caramel), say something along these lines: “May the sweet taste of Sabbath stay in your mouth all week long.” The Sabbath has now come to an end. Savor the blessings of the day. Anticipate its coming again in seven days, when you get to practice once more living the Sabbath in your chosen ways.