Theologian Walter Brueggemann suggests that observing sabbath is an act of resistance. The patterns of life in American culture do not encourage us to take times of rest. We have to claim them, and then we have to guard them.
God did not design creation to work that way: On the seventh day, God rested from all of his labors – all of his labors. And, in the Fourth Commandment, God begs us to do the same. Brueggemann goes on to say that it is our consistent disregard for the Fourth Commandment that causes us to violate all of the other commandments. When we are not rested, we are more likely to abandon our integrity, to dishonor our relationships, to believe that the world belongs to us and not to God. The reverse is just as true: Intentionally honoring the Fourth Commandment will make us better parents, better partners, better people.
Times of sabbath rest do not necessarily need to be taken on a particular day of the week, or at a particular time of the day. (Clergy often take their sabbath time while others are working, since we often work while others are off.) The key is this: Rest from all of your labors: No E-mail, no errands. Just stop. Just rest. Just be.
Most of us currently find ourselves living under “safer at home” orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These orders have disrupted all of the patterns that usually shape our lives. That can be deeply unsettling, but it’s not all bad. As we re-design the rhythms of our lives from scratch, we have the opportunity to design them in ways that actually work – in ways that will leave us filled with life, not drained of it.
Our new patterns of life need to address to the specific needs of ourselves and of the people for whom we care. They also need to address the invitation that God modeled for us in creation and passed down to us in his law.
Recall the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”