Make sabbath


Today I will make sabbath, in a church pew feeding on the word of God and round the kitchen table with family and lunch. I will make sabbath typing out these words because I love to write and I will make it with stitches and baking or with a good book. Together with my husband, who is my closest friend, I will get out of the house and leave the chores behind. With no thought of visas, laundry, haircuts or groceries we will make some quiet in the midst of the hurry, tuning our ears to the quieter voice of God.
The pink hexagon quilt is laid out over the arm of the sofa where I left it last night. Too tired to work at it any longer, eyes straining as the light faded, I hooked up the needle and went to bed happy that the quilting stitches are getting a little better all the time. They are making the patterns they’re supposed to make on the back as well as the front of the cloth. I want all of the children to sleep under hand-pieced quilts, stitched with love from fabrics lost at the bottom of the stash, brought to life in patterns first imagined by pioneers on the American prairies, with technique that evolved under the needles of women who wanted to keep their families warm. I have knitting stowed away in a small draw string bag. An easy baby cardigan, so small I’m making it up out of one skein of expensive yarn. I want all the babies to be wearing hand knits over their sleep-suits, wooly hats and mittens against the cold.
In the great diversity of folk and our multifarious lives we all make sabbath in a different way. Somewhere in the forgotten annals of time we lost the thread and made our sabbath hard, a list of things forbidden and hardships too difficult to mention. He came to give you life and give you life to the full. Find the things that stir your connection with Christ and saturate your life in them. Live a life dripping with everything you love. Live heavy with your thanks for it, strained beyond capacity because you’re hungry for more of it. If it brings you closer to God, pursue it with all your heart, follow that road like a quest. Never give up.
The urge to make sabbath is as old as Eden, it is tied to the patterns by which the world was made. Like lintels in the windows from where we view God, our sabbath is supporting a full weight of glory, holding up a universe waiting to be redeemed. From one evening when the world was very new, to the mountain and Moses with the words carved in stone, God has been telling us to take a rest. Traveling in the wilderness, then building a temple for the worship of God, women who baked would not so much as light a fire, the spinning wheel was still and the shuttle that flew between the threads on the loom lay idle. No bread was proved, no beast was milked, no cheese was made, no fruit was gathered. The stone mason laid his hammer on the bench, the carpenter swept the wood shavings from the floor and stood the broom against the wall. The scribe rolled up the scroll and put his pen away, the shepherd did no more work than that which would keep the sheep safe and well.
Jesus shocks them with his take on the sabbath: the rule makers, rule keepers, cruel rule enforces. Sabbath was made for man, he says, stooping to pick up an ear of corn to eat. Sabbath is made for man, because he is loved, because he matters more, because he matters most. Sabbath is made for man, says the saviour, the one who is making the burdens light, healing the sick, raising the dead. Who is this man promising life, close enough to touch, close for the taking? Who is this man, making miracle of rest from the mess of our untidy week, ordinary dis-functioning family and the storms that rage within?
Our urge to make sabbath runs much deeper that the mere ceasing of our work. It runs deeper and directs us not to acts or rituals or routines but to a person. It is a heart’s work in a world where it still remains for some to enter his rest and God says do not harden your hearts and we won’t, we really won’t. Insomniac, busy mum, frustrated at work, midlife crisis, grieving, disappointed or simply in plain dull pain, there is hope for us all in a sabbath day’s rest.
Today I will do battle against the incessant hustle of every day life, the bullying deadlines and vicious demands, the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘woulds’, the ‘oughts’ and the ‘can’t’. I will fight laziness or despondency and I will make a little more progress at working hard at working less. I will make sabbath like a quilt to keep me warm, I will knit it one stitch at time and wear it like a glove. For it fits well this sabbath, this rest for the soul, almost as if it was made just for me.

I was inspired to write about sabbath today because I am overwhelmed with my own need for rest and because I just happened to find some really good stuff around the internet this week on the subject.

The Sabbath Society, found on Shelley Miller’s blog, Redemption’s Beauty
Myquillyn Smith, The Nester, Why it’s worth it to fight for rest
Shauna Niequist, More Love, less hustle
Margaret Feinberg, The bible says Jesus’ yoke is easy, but some days I doubt


3 thoughts on “Make sabbath

  1. Kim if you’ve not already read it I’d recommend Walter Brueggemann’s book Sabbath as Resistance.

    “Sabbath, in the first instance, is not about worship. It is about work stoppage. It is about withdrawal from the anxiety system of Pharaoh, the refusal to let one’s life be defined by production and consumption and the endless pursuit of private well-being.”

    • Thanks Mark. I read prophetic imagination a couple of years back and see how the language of empire fits ideas about real sabbath in a post modern world. Scriptures about the Egyptians as hard task masters always resonate with me; this is how I have found the world and religion to be, as opposed to the wonderful grace of God through Jesus. Lovely to hear from you.

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