Wednesday 11 January 2017

Learning to Rest // Some thoughts on Sabbath

I was never good at sitting still... stillness does not come naturally to me. As a child I was a fidget; as a teen, a socialite; and in my adult years I have thrived on jumping feet first from one project into the next. For the most part, the duracell bunny in me runs reliably, though there have been definite seasons where I have come dangerously close to crashing and burning. Scarily close. A life-lesson that I seem to need to learn on repeat...

Rest is important... A vital part of our survival, and a part I too often ignore. A creation ordinance, God wrote rest into our psyche from the start... The need to lay down our tools, to sit back and appreciate. The Lord, who needs no rest, chose to rest. The seventh day. Of course, with the fall, his work resumed, and God began the incredible work of bringing his plan of salvation to pass.

But herein lies my problem... My work is never truly done. Though I may sit back at the end of a productive day (why do they seem so rare these days?!) my job is never really completed, and will never bring me the satisfaction of a complete ability to rest this side of eternity. True rest is, in that sense, unattainable in this life. There will always be more to do...

And so, into the framework of human experience, into the culture of his own people, the Israelites, God wrote laws of rest. A day set apart... His Sabbath day... An opportunity to remember their call to rest, and to recognise their lack of it. Their need for rest, and the unattainable nature of it. A day of regulations and rules, of stepping out and drawing near.

And then, 2000 years ago, God sent his rest-giver into the world. Jesus. The only one capable of giving us the rest we so desperately crave. He is the fulfillment of our need for rest. He finished the work and bought our rest for us. As he claims himself, true rest, rest for our souls, is only found in him.

And so after weeks of pouring over texts, essays, and God's word, this is the conclusion I came to... The Sabbath day as a ritual is no longer needed. Our rest is now fulfilled in Jesus, and we do not need to abide by ancient laws any longer. We find our rest in the Saviour, and not in laws and rules and regulations. The rules and Sunday observances that so many recall from days gone by are obsolete...

And yet...

There is something truly helpful about observing a day of rest... A day which is different and set apart. A day for specifically remembering the rest-giver as we step out of our day to day activities and draw near to the Father. A day of enjoying the company of those we love... a day to lay down our tools, our daily tasks and bask in the freedom of space, and time, and quiet. A day for delighting in the great outdoors, for celebrating the Saviour with our church families, for teaching our children that we value the Saviour highly enough to make one day a week look different for him.

It is not a law. It is not a rule. It is not a ritual.

It is a personal conviction...

And so these next few weeks and months, we will be figuring out the practicalities of setting apart Sundays (the Lords Day - the day of the Resurrection; the day the early believers set apart as special) for ourselves as a family, without it becoming a question of law. When I posted a while ago that I was getting my head around this topic, so many of you were so helpful.. had so many wonderful insights and thoughts and ideas. For each of us, the Lord's Day will probably look very different... and it should! The removal of "law" around the topic gives us freedom in Christ to express our love for him in varied ways; the variety and uniqueness with which he created us, means rest will look very different for all of us. For some, setting aside Sunday is not possible as a full day of rest, and a different time may be found.

But as we have read, and talked and mulled over, and discussed, I have realised there are three things we want to make central as we set up this new(/old) tradition as part of our family culture...

A time for gathering together, week by week, with our church family, to celebrate God's work in our lives, to encourage and grow, to challenge and be challenged. Meeting together with our brothers and sisters in Christ is a vital part of resting, because as we gather around God's word - as we listen, as we sing, as we pray and as we share, we will be reminded where our true rest is found!

A day to remember the Saviour... of course, we should be doing that every day, but a day in which we are specifically encouraged to actively remember... perhaps through music, through a devotional time together as a family, perhaps through having friends for lunch and hearing how the Lord is at work in their lives... intentionally remembering Christ's work on the cross for us. I feel like this is the one I'm least clear on (as remembering is something that is part of our everyday lives as Christians - so how do you intentionally encourage it on a specific day? Thoughts welcome!)

Not working... not having our heads in devices... not rushing off to different events and clubs and activities... just savouring and soaking time. Teaching our children the importance of rest, and the variety of ways that can be found... delving into a good book, rambling through the woods on a Sunday afternoon, laughter over a board game, colouring in, chatting over cups of tea, relaxing with friends and making new acquaintances as we invite people into our home... so many different ways... I'm excited to explore this one.

And so my little delve into a question I've long wanted to explore, has brought me out with more than 23 pages of detailed notes  (no joke!)... I'm excited about this new little adventure... an opportunity to purposefully and intentionally set aside a day for reunion, and rememberance and rest. We will not be tied to it... it is not law, but we hope it will be a way to set up a weekly tradition to make our Sundays different...

So what are your thoughts? What do you do to rest? Do you keep any specific day of the week as special? Do you have any ideas for how to set aside a day without it becoming ritualistic? Please share your thoughts and ideas as we set out on figuring this out for ourselves!


  1. A wonderful reflection. Particularly at this time of year rest is needed. Your year of worship ahead with a purposeful Sunday will bring you closer experiences as a family with god-I am sure. Thank you for sharing. X next blog- those 23 pages?!

  2. A wonderful reflection. At this time of year rest is much needed. I am sure your year ahead with purposeful sunday will bring you and the family a closer experience with God. Thank you for sharing. X

  3. An interesting read, I'd love to see the 23pages but maybe I should explore the subject more myself! I come from a conservative Christian background, that keeps Sunday in a v traditional manner and whilst I don't have a problem with it, I have had a sense that rigid rules don't necessarily result in the most worshipful heart, but wondered what the dos and don'ts should be! One thing I do consciously change are meals, we have a Saturday not Sunday roast because although I enjoy cooking I prefer a simple meal with minimal mess so I get more time with a soul edifying book and my family

  4. Brilliant Claire ... found that so encouraging and useful. Thank you x

  5. Thanks for sharing, Claire. Some really helpful reflections and I absolutely identify with you when it comes to sitting still! We find that Saturday usually works best as a day of rest/ doing things differently, as Sundays are generally busy at church and then preparing for the week ahead. I'm really looking forward to a different pace tomorrow, hopefully including quality time with my lovely hubby, a wintry walk with our bonkers dog and catching up with last week's talk at church. It's so important to stop and rest at times - God really does know what's best for us! Keep us updated with how you get on this year. God bless, Rachel. xx

  6. I bet those Sundays are going to be such a blessing to you all. I've fallen out of routine and you've reminded me to get back to how our family normally do Sundays - Church, community lunch and then family time out in the fresh air before celebration in the evening. Thanks for opening my eyes again Claire. Mich x

  7. Thanks Claire - very helpfully written. I agree with your conclusions

  8. Thank you Claire we were talking about this very subject over lunch last weekend and we due the same conclusions but now to put it into action

  9. While others are rushing into kingston or doing chores on a Sunday I feel I have permission to lay all that aside and not feel guilty that I'm not joining in.

  10. Greetings Clarina! Thank you for the insights... I stumbled on your blog via a generic Google search for "Day of Rest Contemplations" as I am personally experimenting with my own incarnation of he general concept.

    In regards to your desire to find ways of remembering His work on the cross, my wife and I had very recently stumbled upon a congregation where communion was celebrated every week. I'm finding that prospect to be very beneficial here. I also have found that our blessings over our meals with a mind towards God's gift of salvation as a more regular form of communion to be beneficial here as well. In any event... Thank you for sharing your thoughts! May God bless & keep you and yours through your continued adventures in faith!

  11. I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!


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