In Seventh Day Adventist Christian circles, this saying signifies the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as a holy day of rest, worship and fellowship. It is the English translation for the Hebrew word, Shabbat. Shabbat literally means rest or cessation on which religious Jews remember the Biblical creation of the heavens and the earth in six days . According to the Bible, on the seventh day, God ended His creation and rested. Because of this, God blessed it and made it a holy day. Many Jews and Sabbath keeping Christians refrain from work activities and instead engage in restful activities to honor the day.
Even though I am taking a step away from going to church on a regular basis, I still want to honor the Sabbath. Simply because I think it is essential to have a day of rest and a time to reflect on God. It has always been special to me. In fact in the past, I used to look forward to Sabbath. I refrained from doing homework, even when I had my graduate degree exams. I didn’t work. I went to church, took a nap, listen to inspirational songs, read Christian and/or inspirational books and spent time with friends and family. I continue to unplug from Facebook and emails during Sabbath hours of sunset Friday until sunset Saturday.
There are times, especially for Adventists, when Sabbath does not feel like a rest day. There are special days, events and potlucks that have to be coordinated and managed throughout the day and it could be stressful, especially for those who take on leadership roles in the church. This causes stress and dissatisfaction on Sabbath. This causes many to be less happy and peaceful on Sabbath.
During the past year, I had similar feelings. I hadn’t been enjoying my Sabbath or looking forward to it. I began to be tired of the same old sermons, preached in the same old way. Also, since living with my mother, I felt the added pressure of going to my home church out of duty rather than desire. I found myself taking on the same roles I had during high school and college such as singing in the choir or coordinating youth programs. I realized that I grew out of those roles and that I grew out of the church. Due to this, I began to dread Sabbaths. It wasn’t a day of rest, it was a day of stress! That isn’t a feeling I want towards what is intended to be a special day, a restful, stress free day at that!
So during this journey, I will like to redefine Sabbath so that I may relive it again. I want to find joy again in the comfort and peace it brings. I know that keeping the Sabbath is a part of me so much that I’ve always joked to my family that even if I become a Buddhist, I would still keep the Sabbath holy.
Last Sabbath, I attended a prayer rally on behalf of the girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria. It was great! It was eye opening and it inspired me to take action in a small way by writing the story Bring Back My Friend. A few months ago, I would not have attended this sort of even in place of church. However, I realized that this is one of the ways that I want to keep my Sabbath. I want to do something good rather than sit in a pew four Sabbaths a month. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been inspired by sermons and other activities at church but I can’t limit my Sabbaths to church.
As I figure out my definition of Sabbath, I will try to share some of my experiences as well as some of the research I find about the roots of this day.
Tomorrow, I will be going to a Jewish Synagogue. We’ll see how that goes!
I hope that you take a few hours sometime at least once a week to experience Sabbath. You won’t regret it!