Tag Archives: sabbath

The Work of Sabbath: Do Things All Together

Originally posted at the Sabbath in the Suburbs blog.

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What a month it’s been! This past weekend was the first weekend in four that I’ve been home. We made sure to take things slowly and Sabbathly, with lots of quiet lounging-around time in addition to chores and errands to catch up on. (The house was in fine shape, but when there’s only one parent in town, things go into batten-down-the-hatches mode.)

In the Sabbath book I wrote a series of sections called “The Work of Sabbath”—twelve different ways to think about observing Sabbath beyond the standard “don’t work” command. There are sections about seeking novelty during Sabbath, saying yes, fasting from one aspect of your work, etc.

This weekend we stumbled on another: Do All Things Together. 

We had the standard Saturday errands to complete: Costco, grocery store and the like. Rather than dividing and conquering with an eye toward efficiency, we decided to tackle them all together. (“All together” meant everyone but Caroline, who is away with her grandparents.) Costco in particular is a fun time for our family. (Free samples! Admiring the bounce house hanging from the ceiling! Hiding in the giant shed! Begging for the jumbo box of Apple Jacks! OK, I could do without the last one, but you take what comes.)

I remembered fondly a family from a church I used to serve, who decided to make it their Sabbath activity to take the dog for a walk all together, rather than leaving it to whoever drew the short straw. The mother described the excitement on the dog’s face the first time she saw all five of them standing at the door ready for the walk. What joy.

How’s your Sabbathing going this summer?

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photo credit: daviesg via photopin cc

What’s Done Is Done

What Has Been Done Has Been Done

What Has Been Done Has Been Done

I use this quote in Sabbath in the Suburbs, and I have it posted on the bulletin board in my study. I try to let go of the unfinished work of my life when it is time to rest, or play, or sleep, or simply go to the next thing. Sometimes I feebly succeed.

I’m in a busy season of travel, which also sadly coincides with a couple of kid events: concerts and the like. I often feel some sadness and guilt when I leave town—Robert is a full and capable partner, but his work schedule is not as flexible as mine—and this time those feelings have been compounded by the missed concert.

I am thankful beyond measure for the privilege of being with congregations and other leaders, whether as a preacher, conference keynoter, or retreat leader. It is my joy and my vocation. But I do miss my family when I’m away.

I deal with these feelings (or not) with a pre-travel ritual that I call “guilt cleaning and overcompensation laundry.” I was in the midst of this flurry last week and said to Robert, “I always feel a little bad about leaving,” and he responded, “What’s done is done.”

I stopped for a moment, because I didn’t know what he meant. My initial interpretation of his statement was, “Well MaryAnn, it’s a little late to worry about that now. You’re committed to these events.”

I thought he was judging me, or expressing frustration. But actually, he was quoting the New Zealand Prayer Book to me: What you finish, you finish. Don’t feel bad about it; we’ll be fine; let it be.  

Huh. The dude actually listens to stuff I say!

Now if only I would listen…

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Image: The Episcopal Church Facebook page

“More, More, More”: A Sabbathy Call to Worship

More More More...

My time at Myrtle Beach with First Presbyterian Church, Sumter SC, closed with a wonderful worship service, planned and led by the pastoral and music staff. I preached, but as is sometimes the case with these things, we did not coordinate a huge amount. Still the Holy Spirit wove everything together.

I was particularly taken by the call to worship, which pastor Ray Fancher says he adapted from another source.

Sabbath confronts the culture of relentless production and our fears of scarcity… and this responsive call to worship captures it perfectly:

Temptation surrounds us:
do more, take more, have more.
More food, more money, more power, more life!
‘What could it hurt?’ we hear—from friends, the media, our own souls:
More hunger, more suffering, more need, more fear, more anger.
So we gather in God’s abundance and remember: God rested. We were slaves.
God gave us Sabbath for renewal. In Christ we have everything!
Let us drink deeply from God’s spirit. God gives us all we need to
Live fully, love deeply, and serve faithfully. Thanks be to God!

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My blog practice during Lent is to Rest in the Words of Others. Interested in original content? I will be writing short reflections each week on my email list through Easter. 

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

Ideas to Spark Your Sabbath Time

This past weekend I was in Myrtle Beach with the good folks from First Presbyterian, Sumter for their annual congregational retreat. They were a fun, lively group of folks who got it.

As I often do with groups, I shared the ten principles of the Sabbath Manifesto (things like light candles, drink wine, avoid technology) and asked people to get in groups and offer additional principles. They wrote these on post-it notes and we put them on a flip chart.

I find the list inspiring and joy-filled. Some are activities; some are states of mind.

Which ones resonate with you?

  • Dance!
  • Solitary time
  • Find balance
  • Remembering God is a focus for our day intentionally
  • Involve the world outside the family
  • Find your quiet place to pray and meditate
  • Quiet
  • Cup of coffee
  • Stay attentive to your family and children
  • Communal/family meals
  • Celebrate life–past, present, future
  • Avoid negativity–push F9 to “refresh” and renew
  • Incorporate the church family in Sabbath practice (covered dish) alternate classes as servers
  • Devotion–scripture
  • Finding joy in the day
  • Prayer–meditation
  • Take better case of ourselves; as a result we take care of others
  • Give back
  • Simplify transportation
  • Place priority on our personal relationships… church, personal, familial
  • Volunteer
  • Turn off TV
  • Walking
  • Gardening
  • Read Bible and other spiritual material
  • Keep spiritual journal
  • Identify what restores you. Be conscious of it and realize it is a gift from God and to God
  • Don’t get “overchurched”
  • Turn off TV
  • Study the Bible
  • Family dining time
  • Find a resting place

Unplug Next Friday!

I’ve written before about the Sabbath Manifesto folks. I love their whimsy and style in promoting a practice that’s deep and ancient, yet ripe for a reboot. Check out their ten principles for Sabbath-keeping:

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undologoNext Friday evening, March 7, begins their annual Day of Unplugging, a 24-hour period in which folks are encouraged to switch off the devices and connect with family and community in a spirit of recreation and joy:

We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our iPhones and BlackBerry’s, chronicling our every move through Facebook and Twitter and shielding ourselves from the outside world with the bubble of “silence” that our earphones create.

If you recognize that in yourself – or your friends, families or colleagues— join us for the National Day of Unplugging, sign the Unplug pledge and start living a different life: connect with the people in your street, neighborhood and city, have an uninterrupted meal or read a book to your child.

The National Day of Unplugging is a 24 hour period – running from sunset to sunset – and starts on the first Friday in March. The project is an outgrowth of The Sabbath Manifesto, an adaption of our ancestors’ ritual of carving out one day per week to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and connect with loved ones.

Next Friday and Saturday, the Danas will be in Myrtle Beach as I lead the good folks of First Presbyterian, Sumter SC in their annual church retreat. What a fine place to unplug.

Interested in taking the plunge and signing the unplugging pledge? You’ve got a week to think about what your day of unplugging might look like. Peruse some of the photos on the site for inspiration:

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Photos and images from the Sabbath Manifesto/Day of Unplugging website.