The Sabbath — a topic full of theology, meanings, questions and interpretations.
It’s one of the Ten Commandments, but it’s also something that has changed both in meaning and in appearance throughout the biblical narrative.
Jesus, in Matthew, is seen re-defining the meaning of Sabbath and the purpose of it. When Israel's religious leaders call him out for what they believe qualify as different charges of breaking what the rules of the Sabbath had become, Jesus responds with the true meaning of Sabbath — resting with God.
At Taylor, it can be difficult to rest, let alone taking a whole day of rest. We recognize that in our own lives we have fallen short of what the word of God says about the Sabbath.
Even though we live in a Christian community, school responsibilities and social responsibilities can often leave us feeling as though taking an entire day of rest is either unfeasible or unbearable — how do we miss a whole day of these things going on around us?
“There’s an element of trust, at least in my own practice, where you’re having to trust that the Lord take care of things that are left undone,” Professor of Biblical Studies Greg MaGee said. “Just trusting that the weekly pause, in the long run, is better. It’s a gift — it’s built into creation.”
MaGee emphasized that this could mean doing more on Saturday, or giving up more time during the week to make sure that Sunday is a day for the Lord.
He said that this semester he has focused on setting aside the day each week, and has noticed a pay-off.
“It’s easy to rationalize it away — ’ok, I just need to get this work done,’” MaGee said. “So this semester, I just felt like ‘okay, I’m gonna make it more of a habit in my schedule, and it really has been a blessing.’”
It can be hard to set such boundaries –– especially when you’re a Taylor student. However, it’s clear both in scripture and in the testimony of others that this rest is something that has been given to us by God and something to be honored. Even if it can’t be an entire day – being intentional about setting aside work, school and other responsibilities for a time is crucial for our relationship with the Lord and our community with other believers.
Sophomore Caroline Monberg said she decided to begin taking a Sabbath last year, and has been practicing Sabbath rest for over a year now.
Monberg is a member of the women’s soccer team and a STEM major, so it’s been a challenge at times.
“To take a Sabbath requires a lot of intention and a rearrangement of priorities,” Monberg said. “At first, I really did not notice a difference in taking a Sabbath, but as it became a more regular practice for me, Sundays started to become my favorite day.”
Monberg highlighted the phrase, “We do not rest from work, we work from rest.” She says she’s found that she has done her best work in the time following her Sabbath rest and that she looks forward to that time throughout the week.
It’s also important to distance ourselves from the pressures that the restrictions found on Sabbath rest in the Old Testament can put us. The Sabbath is something that is aimed to point towards Jesus. In a way, it’s almost a symbol of restored creation — living in harmony with our Lord.
For some, doing things that may have been defined as “work,” are where they connect most with creation and with the creator. In the same way, things that may seem restful, oftentimes lead to stress or worry. It’s important to do things that allow for connection with the Lord and rest within him.
So, even though it may be difficult and a challenge, what would it look like if we as a Taylor community began setting aside this day, for fellowship with others and fellowship with God?
“We live in a community that talks about living a life that is honoring to the Lord,” Monberg said. “Taking a Sabbath is a very tangible way to live out this intention and serve the Lord with your whole life.”