Saturday, July 27, 2013

For My Own Good: Exploring Sabbath

The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 
He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
- Mark 2:24-28

I believe that when Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man - i.e., given for man's benefit - He meant it. And that we would do well to pay attention.

Last week, I began an experiment to explore the idea of sabbath.

Because the sabbath is for our benefit, I didn't want to enter the experiment with the idea of striving to fulfill an obligation. I wanted to enter it with the idea of receiving a gift.

The gift? A period of time - one "day" out of seven - during which I don't try to make anything happen. I don't try to change the world. I don't try to increase my wealth. I don't try to achieve goals. I dedicate the time to rest, recreation, and the celebration of God and His plentiful gifts. 

I put the word "day" in quotes earlier because I decided to take my sabbath from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday. Besides being Biblical, that makes it easy to begin my workweek on Sunday evening with the work of preparation so that I can hit the ground running Monday morning.

The sabbath intention has given me a new pleasure: the sabbath anticipation. The sun is sinking as I write; I look forward to this night more than I think I have ever looked forward to a Sunday morning.

To spend an entire evening and day luxuriating in the presence of the Lord - not just worshipping, but enjoying Him in everything during that time, and crafting the time toward the end of enjoying Him...YUM!

I've been thinking about what activities are sabbath-appropriate. The first answer that came to mind was the phrase, "rest, recreation and celebration." Reading, listening to music, watching movies, and physical play all come to mind.

The most surprising answer that has emerged is, "playing with Linux." I have long wanted to install Gentoo on a machine, just to see how it works. Or to follow the instructions in "Linux from Scratch" to build my own version of Linux. Or to create virtual machines under Ubuntu on one of my netbooks, to run Windows 95 (or 3.1!) software.

All of those possibilities now seem sabbath-appropriate to me under this rubric, which popped into my head as I thought about playing with Linux: "useless learning."

I spend a lot of time trying to learn things toward the end of accomplishing goals. I think I need a time when I give myself permission to learn stuff just for the fun of learning it.

And for me, that seems sabbath-appropriate, totally in keeping with the original mandate to cultivate the potential of creation (Genesis 2:15), a mandate which necessitates a great deal of play.

I also think that the sabbath intention will make it easier to fulfil what might be considered a corollary: to work my butt off for six days a week.

I would like very much to make all the money I need in a four-hour workweek, but - as the head of Luminaria Productions LLC, as the head of Homewood Capital Partners LLC, as a Legal Shield representative, as chair of the Save Race Street Committee and of Block Watch Plus - doing all that I see may require a 60-hour workweek.

And here's the thing - I think that I can do a 60-hour workweek, and enjoy it, with the right set of practices. And I think that one of those practices is sabbath. I think that over time, having sabbath to look forward to (or to look back upon) will help to keep me energized and motivated. We'll see!

Do you observe sabbath? If so, what sabbath practices have helped you to enjoy God, or have energized and motivated you for a week of work?

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