Today was no exception. I saw it over and over from everyone who passed by. “She should be getting ready for church, not out in her sweats and sneakers.” “I wonder if she has a church home?” “Isn’t it sad that she wouldn’t rather be in the Lord’s house on His day?” One time I even had a very well-intentioned blue-haired neighbor stop and said, “Honey, I would like to invite you to come to my church.” I’m sure she felt she was doing her part to save my soul from the depths of hell. When I explained to her, “I worship on Saturday,” she had no words. I just smiled and wished her a blessed day.
I daydream about flagging down the cars with the staring people and trying to explain to them the joy and peace and rest I have come to know by observing the Sabbath in a more Biblical way. I have found joy in the practice of entering into a time that is set apart to honor the Lord. It is a challenge to explain to someone who has not experienced the peace it brings. When I reflect back on our years of church-going, I’m still puzzled that we never gave much thought about actually “observing the Sabbath.” At the time there was never a question in my mind about if the day on which we worshiped really mattered. What possible difference could it make, as long as we were there to honor Him?
One thing I did know was that I looked forward to the weekend. I work hard during the week, so leisure was and is precious to me. Our weekends were full. We would go to the beach or out on the boat and then go to dinner on Saturday. It was always a fun family day. We returned home worn out from an active day running around. On Sunday, we would sleep in as late as possible and rush around getting ready for church. Then we would have a nice lunch with friends and rush around some more getting ready for the work week to begin. By the end of the weekend, we were physically exhausted, and we were definitely not rested in a spiritual sense either. But, I never gave it a second thought. I did not know what I was missing.
I have, to be honest. When we first became convicted about worshipping on Saturday, even though I really felt it was the right thing to do, I had my reservations. I thought we were going to be missing out on some sort of fun. I was thinking more about how it would be a drudgery to “give up my weekend.” I really couldn’t imagine changing our life in such a way. It seemed like such a burden to start the observance of Sabbath at sundown on Friday night, go to Synagogue on Saturday and somehow “honor the Sabbath Day and keep it holy” until sundown on Saturday. “Oh My Word…how boring could my weekend be?” was a question in the forefront of my mind. But, the more I studied, the more I knew the Sabbath is holy. Time meant to honor. And I become more aware that I was not doing a good job of observing this set apart time commanded in the Word. I was committed to trying to follow what I had come to believe was a more Biblical way to honor the Sabbath of our Lord.
The Sabbath is mentioned over and again Old and New Testament scriptures. I believe when there is a topic or theme mentioned several times in the Bible, there is probably a pretty good reason for it…and we should pay attention.
So, I began to observe the Sabbath. Observance in our home has been a work in progress. We are learning the joys of the Sabbath rest as we grow. I try to prepare a nice meal for Friday night to usher in the Sabbath. Many times we will spend Erev Shabbat, or the evening of the Sabbath, with friends. We have a relaxing meal and spend time together in fellowship. No pressure, just good company. On Saturday morning we attend a synagogue where we participate in Bible study, praise and worship and liturgy…and then we hang out and break bread with our synagogue family (mishpachah). The day is spent honoring the Lord. We don’t go out to eat. Everyone brings a covered dish, and we spend the afternoon with those of like minds. The conversations that take place around these tables are not superficial or worldly or ever mean-hearted. Week in and week out, we discuss deeper things in our lives. We talk about the blessings and challenges practicing our faith has brought us. We discuss the Word. We discuss who in our congregation might be in need of assistance and figure out ways to help them. I am not saying that you will never hear a conversation about college football or other superficial topic, but things of this world are not the focus of the day. And, it is an effortless and beautiful thing.
When we leave our synagogue, we most often come home and take a nap. My husband announces our departure by saying, “Let’s go home and lay before the Lord.” Music to my ears! If you have never taken a Shabbat nap, then you do not know what a good nap is. I am one hundred percent serious when I say that my Shabbat nap is the best rest I have ever had. I am not exaggerating! As the sun goes down on the Sabbath day, we are rested and refreshed. We have spent time worshipping the Lord, we have had fellowship with precious friends and we come out on the other end rested! We then have another whole two evenings and an entire day before we have to head back to work. I tackle my busy work week feeling recharged in a way I had never experienced. I know the Lord blesses us with so much more than we could imagine for ourselves, but I had no idea what rich blessings observing the Sabbath could bring. From a selfish or personal standpoint the fellowship, the rest and the peace would be enough for me. But, there is so much more to it than that, I am convinced.
There are Biblical commands to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” People will argue that it does not matter on which day you worship. I agree with that - worship any day. But, the Word is specific when it says to remember “the” Sabbath. Nowhere does it say remember “a” sabbath day. Like so many things in our fallen world the truth has been so diluted, that we know longer recognize a lie. Others will say that the Sabbath is an Old Testament idea and as such “it died on the cross” with Yeshua. That is just not true. The Sabbath was observed by believers in the New Testament after His death. One example is when Mary rested on the Sabbath, rather than returning to the grave. Luke 23:56 Then they returned and prepared aromatic spices and perfumes. On the Sabbath, they rested according to the commandment. Time again Yeshua goes to the Synagogue and teaches on the Sabbath. In Isaiah 66, the Lord himself says, “…from one Sabbath to the next, all people with come to worship me.”
Observation of the Sabbath is emphasized again and again in the Word. When I began to observe Shabbat, clumsy as I was at it, I began to feel a peace I had never before experienced. My challenge for you is to do your own research. Read the Bible for yourself. Do a study on the word “Sabbath.” Do it yourself. Do not let a teacher, preacher, pastor or friend tell you what to believe. You owe it to yourself to let the Word speak to you.
I did…and I worship on Saturday.