Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Welcome the Sabbath

The welcome sets the stage for the rest of day. Enter joyfully into the Sabbath as it begins. On Friday evening, instead of rushing to the last moment to see how much you can fit, greet the Sabbath with joy. First, look up what time sundown will come. The goal is to think joyfully that the Sabbath is coming each time you look at the clock. Countdown to joy. Replace the countdown of time left to accomplish things with a countdown to rest and special time with God.

As sundown approaches, gather your family together. Let each person turn off their cell phone. Instead of just silencing it, power it down. The world will keep turning without you for this brief worship time. Voicemail can go unanswered for just a bit. Read a scripture together—maybe the beautiful Sabbath commandment found in Exodus 20. Perhaps you need a reminder of the perpetuity of the Sabbath and Isaiah 66:23 can remind you that we will keep Sabbath in heaven too.

Growing up, our Friday nights marked a change in the week. They reminded us of a better day coming. Each Friday night we sat around the table with candles lit and talked. The menu was simple: popcorn and fruit. If we smiled very sweetly at Mom, and asked her very nicely, there would also be tapioca pudding. The best part of the meal, to us kids, was the paper plates. You see, we grew up with chores to do, so paper plates meant a reprieve from washing dishes. It meant rest. This was our Sabbath tradition—a way to start together.

Start a Sabbath tradition with your family. Maybe your choice is to eat a simple meal of fruit by candle light. Maybe you want to connect with Bible memorization. You can recite Bible texts together as the Sabbath beings. Choosing to start the Sabbath in celebration helps us remember the value of the Sabbath. It also helps the whole day to be one of joy, instead of a countdown to secular activities. Sabbath needs to be a day of joy and things to do. A day like none other that brings joy, rest, and a special reminder of God’s presence. It is a day of trust in God. Sure, we could spend this 24-hour period engaged in the occupation that pays the bills, but on this day we rest and trust God to care for the needs and wants of life.

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