Saturday and the Sabbath: What is Best to Do?

An important Jewish tradition is the Sabbath which extends from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, a day to focus on our connection to the One who is the source of our being.  Part of me believes I need to make more of an effort to honour this, but I am not sure what is properly included in giving this day to focus on the well-being of our relationship to however we understand God or Spirit.

The Jewish faith has lists of things to do and not to do.  As one who follows Jesus, how can I best honour this day?  Here is my to do list.

First, take time to look at myself — where is my energy going?  What feels right and what feels wrong in my life?  How does what I am doing mesh with what I believe is important?  How is my “being”?

Second, take time to communicate with God.  Express to God what I am feeling, what I am seeking, and thanks for providing what I need.  Create and sustain times of silence inside and outside, even if only for a few seconds or brief minutes at first so I can hear God’s still, small voice whispering to me, either in some kind of thoughts or words, or through events and signs in the world around me.

Third, take time for basic spiritual practice in some form:  there are ancient  Christian chants such as the Kyrie and “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me,” as well as practices from many contemporary Christian and non-Christian communities including yoga.

Fourth, nurture relationships with others — take time to visit, to share space and time, to listen and to respond to what we hear.

Fifth, act for personal physical, emotional, and mental well-being in ways that work for me and address those parts that have been most neglected lately.  This might be time in a hot tub, a nap in the warm sun, reading a good book, a long bike ride, a hike, a picnic with family or friends, and so on — responding to the voice within which laments its neglect.

There are probably many other things that can fit.  There also need to be some tests to check if they really nurture spiritual well-being.  If I am working in my garden, and I feel joy and connection with what I am doing, it belongs on my list.  If I am working with a sense of duty and having to get it done, it does not belong.  The central test for me is, “How do I feel when doing this?”

For another example, I lead a study group every second Saturday which is looking at the Gospel of Mark right now.  Our sharing deepens my sense of connection to the others n the group and to what we are studying, and almost always energizes me.  I believe that make this a helpful spiritual practice.  On some Friday evenings, we have games night, and, when there is a good-sized group, the energy, connecting and sharing feeds me.

But I still need to make the effort to choose one or more of these to honour the Sabbath and to care for my long-term well-being.  May the Spirit speak loudly when necessary to help me make that choice.


  1. Valerie Roney says

    What a well timed post Jim, thank you!

    I’ve been thinking a lot about what I need and what I am doing in my life to see I get it — mostly by learning I get VERY grumpy when I don’t. You’re line “responding to the voice within which laments its neglect” was spot on! I loved how you phrased that, the neglect, the quiet pain in that.

    I also really appreciate that you take a rituralized call for quiet and making it your own, it isn’t about following the “rules” of sabbath so much as following the “rule” of your heart. What feels like duty and work, and what feels like tending to self and spirit.

    In a world where we are all overly busy and always “on” a regular pratice of taking a time out to review where we are at, what we are doing in our lives and if that really meshes with what we truly want, plus just some time to reconnect and refuel is a valuable habit for everyone. Our Saturdays now are mostly full of errands and laundry and life management, so little time left for a time out.

    Thanks for reminding me it is part of a spiritual practice as well as just a sanity practice. Time and time again, I am reminded to check in and see if I am taking care of myself amidst taking care of everyone else.

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