This Lent, I am challenging myself to be intentional in keeping the Sabbath, by honoring both the intent and the spirit of this most demanding fourth commandment and by defining what makes a day holy for me. Realizing that whatever I do on Sunday, it must be connected to the service of God, I began to see keeping the Sabbath as an opportunity, a blessing, a liberation, rather than as a day full of impossible restrictions.
I gave myself permission to define sacred in my own terms, which included the holy work of caring for family, our earth and one another, including myself. Walking through the woods, for example, is a way to both appreciate and honor God’s world. With our grandsons along, I can pray that I am planting seeds of stewardship in the next generation. Preparing food for my family on Saturday, and thus avoiding work on the Sabbath, I am given the gift of fully enjoying our grandsons when they come to visit. And inviting my neighbor, a recent widower, improves the behavior of everyone at the table. Doing good on the Sabbath becomes good for everyone. Beginning each Sabbath with celebration and prayer with the St. Paul’s community is a sacred way to start my week.
As we journey through Lent, let us see the fourth commandment not as one more rule to follow, but as God shining a light, nudging us towards a way of being that honors God, our beautiful earth and ourselves. Let us listen to what comes when we quiet the busyness and replace it with a holy Sabbath: a time of quiet, prayer and service.
“Remember the Sabbath Day, and keep it holy.”
— Margaret Haupt