Making sense of Sabbath rest in the 21st century (Heinrich Grosskopf)

One might wonder whether there is any sense in pursuing Sabbath rest in the society we live in currently. By way of a show of hands (virtually) how many of you reading this blog take a regular solid Sabbath rest?

If God says I can accomplish my work in six days, who am I to say I can’t?

While I personally endeavour to take a day out of my week to rest, I have found that my Fridays (my day-off) can easily be squandered if I don’t make the best use of this day. I am still to make the most of such a day.

Gordon MacDonald, author of among others, the book “Ordering your private world” devotes his last section of the book to Sabbath rest. I recently revisited this 1983 oldie, and found some nuggets in there.

The chapter on Sabbath rest is entitled “Rest beyond leisure.” I find three pointers in the chapter very helpful.

He mentions how Jesus didn’t spend most of his life on hours and hours of sleep, but He rather spent these times alone in conversation with God, his Father.

There might be three dimensions to this type of rest.

  1. The first could be found in looking back and doing some introspection about what I have accomplished in the last week, or even in my life so far. It is a time to “close the loop.”
  2. The second might be to look at today, at how I converse with my Lord about current things.
  3. The third is to look forward into the future, towards my mission, to what I’m about to do. What are my plans for the next six days, for the future? Where am I heading in my service towards God?

Furthermore, the day of Sabbath can have much meaning, if I use this time to make sure the important beliefs and values are acknowledged. The times of rest that God gives us, without any need for guilt about them, are cause for us to interpret our work, to press meaning into it, and to make sure we know to whom it is properly dedicated.

Finally, how about considering a “tech Sabbath”, a time when all emails, social media and technology are fasted from for the period of Sabbath rest? Maybe then I will be of more help towards a world that is in such desperate need of spiritual care.

Heinrich Grosskopf
Dayspring Presbyterian Church