Summer and Sabbath

Four ways to ponder Sabbath this season

by Scott Morris

“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” goes the old Nat King Cole song.

Does that sound like your summer? The description of summer as “lazy” makes us think of picnics and swimming and ball games and a lot of other recreational activities we don’t get around to often enough. We want to do those things, but it’s easy for the “crazy” part of summer to take us captive. After all, kids may get a break from school, but the rest of us still have jobs and obligations.
Yet there is something about summer that calls us to slow down and enjoy, and in that sense summer reminds me of the concept of Sabbath. Let me suggest four points about Sabbath to ponder this summer.

  1. Rest. God created the world in six days, then rested on the seventh (Genesis 2:2–3). When we rest from our labors, we recall the drama of creation and God’s gift of the world for us to enjoy. Perhaps this is one reason people like to enjoy outdoor recreation in the summer and get close to nature. Rest that connects us to nature also connects us to God.
  2. Rediscover. God said to the Old Testament people. “You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, given in order that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you” (Exodus 31:13). God did not give us the Sabbath as a rule to keep, but as a sign of the relationship God offers us and the opportunity to be God’s people. Sabbath is a time to rediscover that we belong to God, not to the demands of our daily lives.
  3. Restore. Perhaps the most familiar Old Testament phrase about the Sabbath comes in the Ten Commandments, “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). We forget to rest. We deny our own need for restoration of body and spirit, so God reminds us to remember to set aside time for Sabbath and allow it to restore us.
  4. Reclaim. The plain fact is that Jesus healed on the Sabbath (John 5:9), even though the legalistic Jewish leaders of the day regarded the “work” involved in his compassion as breaking God’s law. By healing on the Sabbath, Jesus reclaimed the day for God’s purpose of using it for our health and well-being. Maybe it is time for us to reclaim the Sabbath as well.

 

Yet there is something about summer that calls us to slow down and enjoy, and in that sense summer reminds me of the concept of Sabbath.

Rest, rediscover, restore and reclaim—four goals for the summer season that also enrich our experience of Sabbath and improve our health by taking us closer to God.

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