The book my PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) summer study group is reading is...
Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity, by Keri Wyatt Kent.
Bwahahaha! And here I am on bed rest, which allowed me to catch up on my homework reading, LOL. The session started in May, and we've kind of gone fairly slowly through the book--not everyone had a copy at first, and the chapters were long...and then our family vacation happened, so I didn't feel like I really got in a groove with the whole Bible study book routine like I have the past couple of semesters.
But I was excited about the topic, because it has crossed my radar more than once...the idea of being more intentional in creating a 24-hour period of true REST. In fact, we've even heard sermons (whole series even!) from our previous couple of pastors about this, as well as seen examples in the pastoral staff taking rest days (not Sundays!).
In theory, we absolutely agreed with the idea that "Remember the Sabbath day" was not a command that Christ came to abolish, despite what the Pharisees thought of his healing-at-the-synagogue tendencies.
In practice...well, we never really got around to figuring out just what a "Sabbath day" in the 21st century should look like. And then we moved into an Italian house a considerable drive from the Support Site Chapel, where we spent a good portion of our waking Sunday hours during the school year since the AWANA clubs meet Sunday afternoons. Between making two round trips, attending church, plus being involved in AWANA...well, Sundays began to feel more like work than rest. I gave up and soon began getting our groceries on Sundays as well. Since we were making the trip to SS, we might as well hit up the commissary, right?!
So reading this book has been very timely. For one thing, summer has slowed down drastically because of the break in AWANA, allowing us to focus on Sundays as our actual rest days. We aren't sure what the coming school year will look like as Ted takes over the AWANA Commander position, but for now, we've been purposeful about NOT going grocery shopping on Sundays, preparing meals in advance (or making sure there are enough leftovers!), and spending quality time with each other (and with a pillow, ha!) during the afternoons.
There's more to it than simply resting or avoiding work, though, and that's where this blog post comes in. I wanted to try to capsulize some of the things I've been mulling over as a result of reading this book so that I can share them with Ted (and anyone else who feels they don't have time to read the whole book!). I think the easiest thing is to simply quote some passages that have stood out to me so far...
"We can be intentional without becoming institutional" (p. 11).
"If we rest from shopping, buying, or even writing a shopping list, we reject the idea, if only for a while, that we are what we buy. If we rest from our work, from endless meetings and tasks, we reject the idea, if only for a day, that our value lies in our accomplishments" (p. 30).
"We are never fully engaged, and we never take time to disengage" (p. 31).
"In resting, you experience the abundant grace of God, a lavish gift never earned, only received. His presence relieves our soul loneliness in a way that no one and no thing ever could" (p. 50).
[Quoting Mark Buchanan from his book The Rest of God]: "The Exodus command, with its call to imitation, plays on a hidden irony: we mimic God in order to remember we're not God. In fact, that is a good definition of Sabbath: imitating God so that we stop trying to be God" (p. 73).
"Keeping Sabbath is not only about ceasing but also about celebrating. How? By taking the time to do simple things you always say you mean to do but never have time for" (p. 79).
[Another quote from Mark Buchanan's book The Rest of God]: "Sabbath is not the break we're allotted at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfillment of all our obligations. It's the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than that God told us we could" (p. 80).
"Our workaholic tendencies are often driven by fear--that we will not have enough; that if we don't accomplish, we don't have value. Sabbath-keeping challenges us to experience the provision of God and the unearned love of God" (p. 104).
"It's not nicer or better to say yes, because every time you say yes, you're saying no. Saying yes to one thing means you've said no to alternatives. Choose your yeses carefully" (p. 127).
[Regarding mothers/women in particular]: "Ironically, because we don't think of what we do as work, we never stop working" (p. 130).
"At each breath, we take only as much as we need for that moment. We breathe in and breathe out....But then we pause. The pause, in a typical breathing pattern, is about as long as the inhalation and exhalation combined" (p. 139).
"The key to endurance and strength is resting--not just once a week but on a regular basis" (p. 139).
"You do not have to be an Olympic-level Sabbath-keeper. The Sabbath was made for people, Jesus said. It's a tool you can use to become healthier spiritually--more connected with the God who loves you, more peaceful, more joyful. Not perfectly any of those things. Just healthier" (p. 167).
I still have one chapter left in the book. Some things I appreciate about the opportunity to read and learn from Kent's Rest:
- Learning more cultural information about the hows and whys of Israel's Sabbaths.
- Some in-depth study about Jewish culture in both Old and New Testament time periods.
- Practical ideas from a variety of family types, from people in various seasons of life.
- Continual reassurance that there IS NO FORMULA!!
- A balanced perspective on keeping the Sabbath because it is a command that is given for our good while remembering the GOOD that comes from it, freeing the reader from legalistic burdens.
- Thought-provoking treatise on a variety of reasons for Sabbath-keeping...it's not simply "rest."