Sabbath: Spiritual Disciplines

Does the Sabbath seem like a surprising spiritual discipline to be talking about this week? We’re down to a week and a half before Christmas, and it’s crunch time. There are last minute purchases to make and gifts to be wrapped. It’s the time of year for school productions and office parties which demand our participation or attendance. Churches put on special events, requiring practices and memorizing. We have a stack of Christmas cards to write to people we never otherwise communicate with. Some of us are preparing for travel and scrambling to finish work and personal projects before we leave home for the holidays. It’s a festive time of year and we want to enjoy it—but in the busyness, sometimes it’s about more than we can take. Sound familiar?

What if you would choose to refuse stress? To simplify? To rest? What if you could create space to be quiet, to be with your family, to reflect on Christ’s coming?

There is a strong human impulse to do. It keeps us moving, working, producing. Our lives fill up quickly with obligations and responsibilities, of which there seems to be no end. If we wait to stop once our to-do list is empty, we never will.

This is part of the beauty of Sabbath keeping—it builds rest into our schedules. We stop not because we’re finished but simply because it’s time to stop.

The Sabbath is intended to be a restorative gift to us, in which we can recuperate and be reminded that all of life is not about our work and effort. Sabbath forces us to remember that the God in charge of our world-and our lives-does not need our help to keep everything in operation. Sabbath reminds us that we are finite and face limitations to our energy and capabilities. Sabbath instills in us that we are not all about doing but also about being. We set aside the lie that we are worth what we do.

Try setting aside one day each week as a Sabbath. Take a break from your regular activities and allow your body, mind, and soul to rest and be refreshed. This may take some planning ahead, either finishing projects ahead of time or intentionally setting aside the work. You can make this a family affair, considering together how to encourage each other to rest and how to best spend time together.

During the Christmas season, when there is much to be done and many places to go, build in some spaces to rest. Plan a night to simply stay at home—maybe make some hot chocolate, turn on some Christmas music, and enjoy the lights of the tree. Find ways to simplify the demands of the season so that it is one of excitement and wonder at the coming of Christ and not simply a source of stress.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” said Jesus. May you enter His rest as you celebrate this season of His birth.