It was my birthday this week and it had be thinking of how Sabbath is a bit like a birthday!
Birthdays take organizing
This was my first lock down birthday, and my family did an AMAZING job of making it special for me.
My girls are 8 and 9 yo, and they had been planning with Daddy for weeks! They made presents and cards; they organised bunting and party poppers; they discussed food options, chocolate and chocolate cake; they planned places to go (for our daily walk!) and others things which would make my day special. They even considers making sushi!
I did only a few basic jobs all day, and enjoyed other people cooking and clearing things up. (Sometimes I wish this wasn’t a gift and could be an every day occurrence, but baby steps eh?!)
When I thanked my 9 year old for all her efforts, she said:
“Birthdays take a lot of organising!”
How true, my lovely daughter! I spend at least 8 weeks planning and preparing for yours too!
Sabbath is like this too.
Genesis 2:2 says:
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”
Ever feel like you never finish your work? As a parent, our work is never ending, right?
For me to have a day in the week when I rest, I have drawn a line in the sand and chosen one job which I don’t do on my Sabbath, and I try to get it to a place of finished. I have chosen washing as my first choice of task to NOT do on my Sabbath, and so I need to do lots of washing the rest of the week. In fact, I often put the first load in on the evening the Sabbath ends (we follow the Jewish tradition where days start in the evening: “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” Genesis 1:5). I also try to put away a load every day, or I do a massive putting away on Friday so that on Saturday I’ve removed the towering piles of laundry from view! This doesn’t always happen, but that’s my goal, and there’s a huge sense of satisfaction and restfulness which accompanies that empty space which is full of washing the rest of the week.
In order to not have to go food shopping on the Sabbath, I have to have planned our meals in advance.
In order to have a lie in, I have to negotiate that with my family in advance 🙂
It’s not complicated, but to have time off and to rest, we need to plan and organise it.
Birthdays are special
I don’t know how it works in your home, but in ours, once a birthday is over, the planning and ideas for the next one begin. Sometimes even before!
My 8yo has her birthday in December and has already told me where she’d like to go and what she’d like to eat!
The anticipation of the birthday is part of what makes them wonderful, and this is also true for the Sabbath!
There’s a good deal of evidence that having time off and resting is good for us, and even improves our productivity. This is true of a Sabbath day of rest, but I think it’s a bi-product, not the goal.
Sabbath rest is something which God wove into when he created us. Genesis 2:3 says:
Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:3
That word ‘holy’ is the Hebrew word ‘kodesh’ (qō·ḏeš) which means something which is set apart, dedicated or consecrated (literally ‘with’ ‘holy’). It’s the word used about the ground when Moses sees God in a burning bush. It’s the word used about the tabernacle and temple, and the most holy place where God’s presence lived.
Special doesn’t really cut it, but the concept of making a day special for a birthday is a lot like making a day special as a Sabbath day of rest.
There is a reason for setting apart one day, the reason is connected with people and a tradition which has been set up from the beginning.
It’s a way of connecting with each other, as different people can play different roles in the traditions of this special day.
It’s something which has symbolic items which are used, including food.
And for me, just as there are some traditions with birthday, we are all free to do whatever we choose with our family birthdays. The activities we choose will soon become our traditions and probably become part of what our children take into their families in the future.
The day after birthdays are always a bit flat
I was kind of sad when I woke up this morning and my birthday was over.
My family had given me such a special day, and now it was back to normal, clearing the dishwasher and making the breakfast.
However, I did have gifts! I hadn’t eaten all my birthday chocolate, and I spent a lovely 30 minutes this morning testing out my new paints. I’d watched a video of an artist trying out the paints so I copied what she did: putting a small blob of the liquid paint on my paper then drawing a fat line of water along the paper towards my blob, but not touching it. I then added a little more water to my brush and joined the pigment blob and the water line and watched as the colour spread gloriously along the trail of water.
Sabbath is a bit like this.
It isn’t just an island in time. It’s something which should spread part of it’s potency into our week, something of holiness, something of the connection with each other and with God, something of the rest and pausing and knowing what life is really all about.
For me, my Sabbath activities feed into my times of quiet me-time during the week. Recently I’ve been reading a huge chunk of a book on my Sabbath at the moment, and then reflect on the chunk during the week. I have also done a few BIG paintings on A2 paper, which inspires me to do small ones in me A6 note book during the week. And those small things I do also inspire me on my next Sabbath, and so the Sabbath feeds the week and the week feeds the Sabbath, and so rest becomes a part of my every day life.
If you’d like to hear more about what we do on our Sabbath, you can find out more here.