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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 51: Sabbath

Today's Reading: Leviticus 22-23

Amidst all the rules and regulations in Leviticus, there is one command which seems to jump off the page for me. The command is "Sabbath."

Sabbath, which comes from the word "to cease," was established by God in the creation narrative as a day of rest. Of all the laws and rules in scripture, sabbath takes precedence. It is mentioned more times than even the law of love.

According to tradition, the Jewish sabbath begins on Friday evening at sundown and continues until Saturday evening when one can see the first three stars in the sky. It is a time of rest, relaxation, enjoyment of family and freedom from work.

This rhythm in life is very restorative, not only for the body but for relationships with God, family and friends. Slaves, cattle and aliens all receive rest on this day. Everything stops.

I know in my own life, I need rhythm. I am healthier and happier when I take a day of complete rest every week. It is hard for me when my usual schedule is interrupted with other duties or travel.

Most Christians celebrate the day of resurrection, Sunday, as their sabbath. The Seventh Day Adventists wonder why, as they continue to keep Saturday as their Sabbath. The United States has an interesting custom called "the weekend" which consists of both the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) and the Christian celebration of resurrection (Sunday).

Many of us, though, fill up our weekends with chores, shopping, entertainment and other work. It is hard for us to slow down and sit still. We feel guilty or bored if we are not doing something.

Perhaps it is time we rest and allow our souls to catch up with our bodies.

After all, God has not suggested sabbath; God has commanded it.

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