by Beth A Richardson on July 1, 2012 · 30 comments

Guy resting

by Flora Slosson Wuellner

Do I give myself regular “Sabbaths”? Each hour we need tiny Sabbath moments of inner renewal: gazing at a sunbeam on the floor, looking at a beloved painting, smelling a flower, touching a leaf, listening to a bird, stretching and breathing deeply, holding our hands under running water, gently palming our eyes, or just quietly sensing God’s breath upon and within us. Such tiny but powerful Sabbath moments are especially important after intensive thinking, working, or interaction with other people.

Each day, we should lay aside at least one hour of Sabbath time to be and do what delights us most. We might walk, enjoy a garden, listen to music, read a delightful book. Whatever we choose, we should do it with joy, not compulsion. God is present with us in these moments of personal delight as much as when we are praying.

We need one day a week for relaxing, joyous, humanizing activities. The original scriptural concept of Sabbath was not that of heavy church responsibilities or even of intense prolonged prayer. Originally it was given as a day of total peace and relaxation; a time to enjoy God’s presence, knowing God also rested after the intensity of creation. The act of resting is a holy act.

We need a week each year (not the regular family holiday) when we can go off alone or with a few like-minded friends or spouse for a quiet retreat. It need not be a time of intensive reading or contemplation but a time of walks, music, drawing, sleeping, keeping a journal—whatever refreshes and renews us most deeply.

Experiences of Sabbath

Hearing about other Christian leaders’ experiences and celebrations of Sabbath is both interesting and helpful.

  • One minister told me she leaves town the night before her weekly day off, so that the next morning she is already within her ambience of rest.
  • An active church laywoman I know takes her hour of
    refreshment and delight first thing in the morning when
    she writes poetry of thanksgiving …
  • A lay leader prepares a fresh vegetable drink each day
    and sips it while walking slowly through his garden for half an hour.
  • Once a day a busy conference executive closes her door, puts her feet up, and listens to her favorite music for half an hour!
  • A pastor enjoys walking, resting, or playing tennis with his wife during his quiet hour. …
  • A lay leader sits quietly at her table after breakfast,
    a candle lit, reading a few scripture verses, and inwardly talking with God about the events of the day ahead.
  • A Christian businessman schedules a half-hour appointment with himself each day (writing the date in his appointment book) and keeps the date as definitely as if he were meeting a colleague. He takes himself for a walk, talks with God, sits down with a book, or opens the window and breathes the fresh air. Sometimes he takes out his collection of cartoons and gives himself the good medicine of hearty laughter. …

We need to take responsibility ourselves for our Sabbath times with unapologetic firmness and clarity. … We are beginning to understand self care in Christ’s name as a holy act, not only as stewardship to God’s “temple” within us but as deep witness to the faith that we are God’s beloved.

Credit: Adapted from Feed My Shepherds: Spiritual Healing and Renewal for Those in Christian Leadership by Flora Slosson Wuellner. Copyright © 1998 by the author. Used with permission of Upper Room Books.

This article is reprinted from the July/August issue of the magazine. To get a copy of this issue or to order a subscription to Alive Now, call 1.800.972.0433 or order online.

Photo Credit: Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

Memorial Day Sermons August 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm

This post was a great reminder of the importance of Sabbaths. Thank you for sharing!

Lisa Gray-Lion July 25, 2013 at 11:59 am

Flora Slosson Wuellner reminds us of how profoundly counter-culture following Jesus Christ can (maybe ‘should’) be. Imagine the audacity! A ‘unit of productivity’ dares to step out of the harness and simply ‘be’ in God’s good creation, to sip and savor the joy and beauty of life – even (maybe especially) when life seems bleak or overwhelming. This is an excellent reminder of the many ways we can experience ‘shabbat’, Sabbath. Thank you!

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