Saturday, April 16, 2011

Doing the Sabbath

A review :  Sabbath, by Dan B . Allender

As a part of “The Ancient Practices” Series, Allender writes on the subject of the Sabbath.  As a core belief based on the fourth commandment, he attempts to redefine and challenge the fundamental approaches that religious groups have taken on Sabbath observance.  It is difficult assignment indeed.  Some literalists and legalists choose to mold their practices into a sundown to sundown seventh day that is defined by many do not’s and a few expected acts such as public worship.  Other groups have gone to the opposite extreme and ignored any attempt to govern their daily practices.

Allender does not attempt to enter that debate but focuses on a different assumption:  the Sabbath is a day of delight for humankind, animals, and the earth.  He directs us to a leisure day that includes feasts and play time.  In all of this, he frequently refers to God being glorified by our delight.

This book evoked diametrically opposed thoughts.  At times, I was giving him a hearty amen for opening up a new realm in which to view the Sabbath.  Having entertained those whose Sabbath observance was duty-bound, uncomfortable, and limited to a few ritual practices, I could see a whole new dimension for those unhappy souls.  They were resigned to Sabbath observance because it was a law and obedience was accomplished without joy.

On the other spectrum, I was left with a feeling that anything that made me delighted could fulfill the expectations of Sabbath.  In the Epicurean world that we find ourselves in, we must resist activity which feeds the unholy desire of pleasure for pleasures sake.  I whole heartedly agree that we should approach all our spiritual activity with the delight of the soul.  But our lives cannot be permanently delighted unless our wills and activities are aligned with the holiness of God.

Thanks, Dan, for opening a needed dimension in thought regarding the Sabbath.  But “delighting in the Lord” is essential for experiencing delight in our lives.  We can thoroughly enjoy our Sabbath and have it move us toward holiness, compassion, mercy, love and all the other attributes of God.

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