Stopping

Published 6:00 am Friday, November 12, 2021

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God” — Exodus 20:8

Keith Leach

This business of Sabbath is an interesting thing for us as Christians, especially in America. We live in a land where working hard is a badge of honor. Taking time off is sometimes seen as a sign of weakness or worse, laziness! Yet God not only commanded that we take a day and “cease work” but consecrated the Sabbath; we are to “keep it holy.”

Sabbath is literally translated as a “cessation of work.” First century rabbis defined this cessation as a “day to stop changing the earth to our needs.” In short, Sabbath was a day to accept and be at peace with the world the way God made it.

Too often, we resist this commandment and do not keep a day as “holy.” We continue to labor each day thinking that not working at a “paying job” is Sabbath enough. We do so at the risk of skewing our relationship with our Creator. Sabbath should not be another day to run errands, it is not a commandment that is fulfilled by showing up at church for an hour, nor is it a time of working on things other than our “paying” job. Sabbath is a day of spending time enjoying creation just as God made it and not trying to bend it to our will. When we do not keep Sabbath, we become enslaved to work.

By the end of this month, we will be in Advent. It is a holy season when we are called to set aside time to remember what Christ’s coming has done for us and what His coming again will mean for us. Let us begin now practicing Sabbath. Perhaps then, as this high holy time comes upon us we will be ready to stop the activities of this life and look forward to dwelling in perfect harmony with God.

KEITH LEACH is Pastor of College Church and College Chaplain at Hampden-Sydney College. He can be reached at kleach@hsc.edu.