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Practicing Sabbath

We’re all ordinary folks, living our lives, and looking for God in the midst of it.  We experience moments of rapturous joy, and moments great trial.  Which means we all have a story to tell.  We hope these stories about who we are and how God is working in our lives will be encouraging for you in your walk of faith.

In September 2016 we had a church-wide retreat centered on sabbath keeping.  Sumrell Van Meter tells her family’s story about how keeping the sabbath is impacting their life.


“Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm.  That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.”   Deuteronomy 5:15


I must admit that prior to a year and a half ago I had not given much thought to the intention behind the fourth commandment.   Sure, I knew the fourth commandment, regularly engaged in corporate worship on Sundays and practiced a version of Sabbath.   But that was before I had the opportunity of dwelling with it over the course of about a year and a half.  I’d been asked to help with the planning of a church wide retreat and our curriculum was based on the Sabbath.   And so I thought about Sabbath……a lot……

For me, one of the most convicting ideas was that God created Sabbath for us, for our needs.  This commandment that serves as a connecting point between ourselves and God is important, not a rule to be kept but a fundamental need we humans have.   In our world today keeping Sabbath must be intentional.   With the pace of our 24/7 world there is the possibility of working day and night, of being alerted to breaking news at all hours, of shopping at midnight.   The idea of Sabbath as an oasis, a necessary time of rest to be able to hear God resonated.

It took a few times for our family to get the practice of Sabbath right.   Our family can’t always fully observe Sabbath on a Sunday  (due to a work schedule that sometimes involves Sunday) and so our first step was in marking the days that we would observe Sabbath.  And we finally perfected the preparation that needed to be done in advance for Sabbath.  After a few times we finally got it right.   A full day of rest, of being present to God, to one another and to the world around us.    And wow, what a difference it makes.   The outcome for us has been a sense of balance, renewed energy for the coming week and the reassuring knowledge that we are only a few days away from another Sabbath.  While we are not always perfect, we have embraced the need for a regular observation of Sabbath in our lives.

“Sabbath is important because you need rest from your days of work and can be prepared for the next week”  -Claire Van Meter

“We should keep Sabbath because it is one of the ten commandments”  -Jacob Van Meter

“ In Sabbath we are fully present with everything and everyone around us”  -Patrick Van Meter


One Response to “Practicing Sabbath”

  1. Sharissa Hill says:

    I have a few questions if that’s okay..
    I grew up Methodist. Though we always did church and resting on Sunday. We didn’t really observe it any special way other than we did try and go to church every Sunday and we rested. Though we did buy things from a local store on some sundays and often did breakfast before church and sometimes lunch after at a restaurant. As I’ve gotten older I’ve read that We’re not supposed to commit commerce on sabbath and that it’s actually to be held on Saturday. Another thing is some people say we can cook as long as we have most of it prepared day before or if we have already bought what we need the day before to make whatever it is we’re making on sabbath day. I’m really confused. I feel like I’m trying very hard follow sabbath and keep it holy but I’m seeing allot of rules and I don’t want to fall victim to “falsey observing “ sabbath as some did in the Bible. Here is what I think so far.. no cooking, try and prepare a meal the day before and no working. We should rest. I don’t think we should commit commerce due to that would make someone else work. All of this unless an emergency arises however. Is this correct? Should I only ask a female? I read somewhere else that if women had questions they should ask their husbands, is this just while at church . My husband views sabbath as resting but doesn’t mind eating out. I’m very confused.

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