sabbath: lent in pictures day 20

trunks and their shadows on the hills at sanctuary woods


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At our church yesterday morning, our middle and high school Sunday school class talked about the Ten Commandments. We discussed each commandment and what God intended by them. What counts as an idol? When God says not to take his name in vain, does he mean the name “God” or the divine name, YHWH, too holy to be pronounced? Do you have to honor your stepdad, too? Are you breaking the fourth commandment if you skip church for a prayerful walk in the woods with your family?

Once we had talked through the particulars of the commandments, we paired up and tried to rephrase each commandment with the structure “Love your ________.” It was an exercise in seeing the commandments as a gift, not a burden. For a lot of them, we ended up with “Love your God” or “Love your neighbor.” But students got creative, too. “Honor thy father and mother” became “Love your elders.” “Thou shalt not bear false witness” became “Love your integrity.” “Remember the Sabbath day” became “Love your church.”

I thought about that one for a while. It’s certainly true, that part of Sabbath-keeping is worshiping God with a community. But simply going to church doesn’t necessarily fulfill the command. Scripture also talks about remembering the Sabbath as a way of resting and refusing to be enslaved again. We take a break because God did, and because God rescued us from a life on the hamster wheel. He wants us to be free.

I started thinking of other rephrasings of “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.”

“Love your rest.”

Love your limits.”

“Love your creatureliness.”

And I try. I take Mondays as a Sabbath, since Sundays are workdays. Today I knew my limits. I had pressed right up to them, even past them. February, a small and full month already, had burst its seams and spilled out into March, and I was feeling it.

So I took a nap. I puttered around the house. We walked in Sanctuary Woods. I wrote. We’ll make dinner.

I’ve tried to spend my Sabbaths with a combination of purposefulness and purposelessness. Purposeful: writing, painting, baking—creative activities that nourish a tired spirit. But also purposeless, in the sense of unproductive: napping, walking, puttering—habits that restore even in their inefficiency.

I’m loving my rest, I’m loving my God-given limits.

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This post is part of a Lent Photo-a-Day series, connected to Rethink Church. The rest are here.


2 thoughts on “sabbath: lent in pictures day 20

  1. I’m really enjoying your Lent reflections. This one in particular speaks to me right now. Purposeful I tend to do well with – but intentional purposelessness (yes, I think) I have a much harder time with. I heard a talk recently about how making space for God can mean making space for “nothing” – because daydreaming and drifting can lead us deeper into relationship with the divine if we are intentional about when and how we make space for it. Your post here makes me think of that talk, and I really like your ideas about sabbath keeping. Hope all is well, and thanks for sharing your Lent with us.

    • I am so happy to see you here, Hannah! I’ve missed reading your posts. Thanks for weighing in here — I agree that I have the hardest time with the sacred/creative/restorative aimlessness. My aimlessness is usually time squandered online that ends up draining me, rather than quiet things that lead me deeper into holy space.

      Be well.

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