"Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity" Discussion: Chapter 3, Part 1

Posted by theresa | Jun 21, 2011

“Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” (Matt. 11:28 MSG)

On Sunday, the Disciples Fellowship Group at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ discussed Chapter 3, Part 1, of Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity (Keri Wyatt Kent. Zondervan. 2009).* Building upon "Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity" Discussion: Intro/Chapter 1 and "Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity" Discussion: Chapter 2, Theresa prepared the below material to facilitate the conversation (Note: study also in PDF). You'll note how our fellowship group's consideration of Rest has themes similar to what is found in Theresa's God at Work Testimony (6/19/2011).  Feel free to share your thoughts with us by comments, email, personal conversation ...

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity. Keri Wyatt Kent. Zondervan. 2009. Cover.

Rest

By Keri Wyatt Kent

Disciples Fellowship Group   Summer 2011

Chapter 3: Reconnecting: A Rescue from Isolation

Part 1

This chapter opens with a detailed description of how one family practices the ritual of Sabbath as rooted in the Hebrew traditions.  Have you ever participated in a Sabbath celebration like this?

“It seems odd that God would need to command rest.  Wouldn’t people want to take a break after working?” (p. 58)  But the Israelites needed a Sabbath command—at the time God gave them the law they were fresh out of Egyptian slavery.  As slaves they were not permitted to rest.   Sabbath was truly a gift these newly freed people.

What do you think of these statements:  We don’t take a Sabbath rest because 1) we think too highly of ourselves or 2) we think we are not worthy of one.

“When we think we cannot afford to take a break, we leave unopened the amazing gift of God’s rest.  We put ourselves back into the slavery Sabbath intends to free us from…Such a distorted view of our efforts and busyness, ironically, does not make us feel connected to others in a meaningful way.  Rather, it exacerbates our isolation.” (p. 59)

“Despite our advanced communications systems, we live in a time of increasing loneliness and isolation.”  Do you agree or disagree?  Why?

“The cure for our isolation and disconnection is not simply more relationships but deeper ones, and a deep connection to our shared past.” (p. 61)

“In keeping Sabbath, we connect with our common roots…We find the gold of a shared past, of traditions.” (p. 62)   Have you thought of Sabbath as sharing traditions with our Jewish forbears?  Does it make a difference in how you practice Sabbath or IF you practice Sabbath?

“Through the centuries, various cultures and denominations practiced Sabbath differently.”   Some cultures were stricter than others.  “The Separatists or Puritans were in favor of stricter restrictions on what could or could not be done on Sabbath, and they argued that by rising from the dead on a Sunday, Christ instituted that day of the week as the true Sabbath.”  The Puritans’ convictions on Sabbath were a large part of why they came to the Americas, seeking more freedom to be strict! (p. 63)

But, as is often the case, in an effort to tighten the reins on Sabbath living, the Puritans swung way far, into the territory of legalism.  Legalism is not what God intended.

“Our American culture has a weekly rhythm that includes a weekend off from work…This is also a part of our history and cultural heritage.”  Labor laws protected laborers from uninterrupted labor.  They also protected Sunday as a day of shared rest…Businesses were typically closed on Sundays. ( p. 65)

Sabbath Freedom:  In the OT, the law was given by God to his people to grant them freedom—freedom to live in a way that is in their (our) best interests.  Following God’s way actually leads to freedom, health, and joy. (p. 66)

“Jesus followed these laws in his own life but taught that following them was not a matter of legalism but of having a heart toward God…God’s law shows us how to follow Jesus and how to live according to what Jesus proclaimed to be the most important law of all: to love God and love others.” (p. 66)

The 10 Commandments: the first 3 direct us toward loving God.  The last six are about loving others.  They are rules of moral imperative.  “But the fourth commandment, to keep the Sabbath, trips us up.  We don’t see it as a moral issue, but there it is in the midst of a code of moral conduct that has shaped all of Western civilization…The Sabbath command, though, is not an anomaly…It provides a segue between the God-focused and the other-focused commandments.” (p. 67)  “To love God is to love others without prejudice….The rich do not rest at the expense of the poor…Men, women, children, slaves, even animals are provided for by the grace of God.” (p. 67)

The Sabbath command is different from the other commands because God gives a reason for it.  Keep the Sabbath because…  But then God gives two different reasons.  “In Exodus, Sabbath is about remembering creation—God rested on the seventh day, so the people of God should rest on that day as well…As God worked, so shall we; as God rested, so shall we…But in Deuteronomy, the reason for observing Sabbath is because God’s people were to remember that they had been slaves…In other words, keep Sabbath because you can, because you are free to do so, which is no small gift.” (p. 68)

“Remembering our past slavery reminds us to have compassion on others who are enslaved, on those who have less than we do…By ceasing our endless consumption and acquisition we remember those who do not have enough.” (p. 68)

Have you ever considered Sabbath from this perspective?  That by abstaining from consumption one day a week you are taking a stand in support of those who do not have enough?  Do you agree?

In Exodus God reminds us that we are His image bearers.  In Deuteronomy He reminds us that we were slaves.  “God delivers us and shows us how to live.  Both reasons point us toward loving God and remembering that we are not God.” (p. 70)

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*Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity (Keri Wyatt Kent. Zondervan. 2009) explores what it means to live in “Sabbath simplicity” by focusing on 6 aspects of Sabbath as spiritual practice: resting, reconnecting, revising, pausing, playing, & praying. Readers learn to slow down and find joy and meaning in the midst of their hectic lives. ...

Desire more? Below are the links to the whole series . . .

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