A few months ago, I preached a sermon on why sabbath is a gift from God. In it, I invited the congregation to see sabbath less as a rigid prohibition than as a route to freedom. As our families continue to suffer under the weight of the many responsibilities, agenda items, practices, rehearsals, recitals, concerts, games and tournaments, I think sabbath might be just the type of commitment that can set us free. Specifically, I want to lift up three benefits of a sabbath practice for the busy family.
1. A time for unstructured play
Sabbath allows time for unstructured play. Besides the fact that unstructured play promotes brain development, encourages social development and correlates to better school performance, it is also an exercise of our imaginations. To speak of God is to also speak of mystery. We cannot fully fathom God but neither do we stop trying. In all of the central affirmations of faith, we are confronted with mystery that requires our imagination to comprehend. Moreover, every generation needs a robust imagination to consider how the central affirmations of the church make sense in each age. Sabbath is the place where we exercise the imaginations of the next generation to live the life of faith.
2. A time for mutual curiosity
A common misconception of sabbath is that you don’t do anything. In our current work obsessed world, refraining from work is understood as doing nothing. But sabbath calls for us to stop working in order that we might become curious-- a time where we ask questions about the world and everything in it. Sabbath is a time set apart for teaching and learning. This is why church services have always taken place on the sabbath. When the schedule is too packed, we lose the opportunity to follow our curiosities and ask questions that don’t have immediate value on the work of today. Moreover, feeding our curiosity leads to a wonder and profound experiences of the beauty of this world. These experiences of wonder and awe are as important for our children as their other commitments.
3. A time to subvert the world
Finally, central to the life of faith is a constant examination of what we embrace and what we resist. We are called to love the world in all of its strange eccentricities. We are also called to resist the world and the fAHearlson@waynepres.orgorces that dehumanize and destroy. Sabbath is an act of resistance to a culture that says our worth is wrapped up in our work. Work is an important part of our life and our identity, but our worth comes not from our success at work, on the field, or on the stage, but from God. Sabbath is a weekly act of resistance to the forces that want to quantify the value of our children by what they do. We resist for the sake of our children, but also for the sake of our neighbors who need allies as they also try and exit their over scheduled lives.
I hope you will think about using the sabbath as a gift for your busy families, when you can be free to imagine, be curious, and subvert our culture for just one day. To learn more about the sabbath as a route to freedom for you and your family, listen to the sermon by clicking here.
Rev. Dr. Adam Hearlson
Associate Pastor - Education, Fellowship, Discipleship