Sabbath Keeping

Dear Reader,

We are reading through Exodus in family worship and I was struck by the fact that God establishes a Sabbath for the Israelites when he first gives them manna–before the 10 commandments are given in Exodus 20. There is no particular reason given, no connection made back to creation, for instance, as one finds later. It is just a sabbath to the Lord and they are not to gather manna (their main food source for the time being) then. On one hand, God doesn’t seem to feel the need to explain the practice in detail to them so maybe they are familiar with the concept. On the other hand, the first week some of them go out to gather manna only to find there is none on the Sabbath.

We would say we keep the Sabbath in our household. We are not as strict as some but stricter than others. It seems there are two aspects to the Sabbath–a positive command to make it a day or worship and a negative command to stop working. The day of worship part is easy. I was raised (in the Catholic church) not to miss Sunday services unless someone was really sick. Where to draw the lines about work is harder. We are not legalistic about it (I think). We try to avoid going to a store or getting gas unless we have an emergency. I was ready to go pick up some Motrin for my son last week because he had a bad headache and we were out at home, but he chose to bear the pain. My husband doesn’t work on the Sabbath but he is not expected to and his work is done at a different place that he can not go to on Sunday. My work is all around me though so it is harder. I can do less. But the kids still need fed. I don’t tend to make big meals on Sunday, but they need something. I don’t do ordinary cleaning chores. But what about all that raisin bran on my floor after breakfast? Surely sweeping it up in a necessity. And I have to say meals at church which we have once a month tend to cause more work. I usually do the cooking the day before but there is still a lot to be done. I noticed the Israelites had to gather twice as much manna the day before the Sabbath so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that the Sabbath for me also seems to require more preparation. Maybe it is just because I am thinking I need (or even deserve) a break that the Sabbath comes to seem like it entails more preparation and work than other days sometimes.

I am wondering what others do. If you keep the Sabbath, where do you draw the lines between necessary and non-essential work? I don’t want to make this a list of rules anyone feels obligated to obey but I think it can be helpful to know how others deal with issues like this.



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