Later this year, on Sunday the 24th of November, the Archdiocese of Liverpool will be holding a Diocesan Assembly Day on the theme: “The Lord’s Day”. There will be reflection material available to help us prepare for the Assembly Day in the two months leading up to it. But for now: How can we make The Lord’s Day a true Sabbath, different from every other day of the week? An American website offers these five ways to help us make the Sabbath different, and to reclaim a day for the Lord … and for ourselves:
1. Observe your Sabbath Day … and if you don’t have one, invent one (everyone needs a day off for rest!) Sabbath is a time to put aside the day-to-day, business-as-usual stuff that fills and clutters the other six days of the week. Unfortunately, for many the Sabbath has become a day to cram in all the work and responsibilities they didn’t have time to get round to doing the rest of the week. (If the thought of a full Sabbath day is too daunting then consider a Sabbath morning, afternoon or evening – at least it’s a beginning!
2. Share your Sabbath with others if you can. Invite family members and friends to share your plans for rest and relaxation. If the word “Sabbath” will scare some away, just invite them over to take it easy for a while. Some folks (maybe you, too) need a nudge from others to get them to slow down, take it easy and put their feet up. And keep your plans simple: Sabbath rest shouldn’t make work for anyone involved. If it’s going to be a meal together, then keep it simple with everyone pitching in. Many helping hands make a simple Sabbath possible.
3. Perhaps for the whole day and at least for a while: Turn OFF anything you can plug in or activate wirelessly (and don’t just put it on vibrate: shut it off! Get off the grid and go screen-less! Invite others to join you in disconnecting for an hour or two or three. (Many folks won’t be able to do this without serious mutual support!) Go for a wireless-free walk together, listening for only the natural tweets you hear from the birds. Free yourself from Facebook for a few hours. Remember and relish memories of your life before email. And if no one will share with you this respite from the cyber world, go for it yourself.
4. Worship! This should be the only work you do on your Sabbath – and yes, worship is work. Praise and thanksgiving don’t usually involve heavy lifting but offering glory and praise to the Creator is a job that belongs to all believers. Worship on the Sabbath, like the Sabbath itself, is best when shared with others. Walking along the canal alone at sunrise might provide a wonderful venue for Sabbath prayer: no argument there. But later in the day, plan to spend some time with others gathered together for no reason other than the prayer your faith community offers on its weekly holy day.
5. At day’s end, take a Sabbath Inventory. Was it difficult for you to observe a Sabbath day of rest? How much of the work-a-day world were you able to let go of? What much did you cling to? Was worship part of your day? Did you pray with others? Did you pray for others? Were you able to disconnect from the grid? What did the Sabbath teach you about yourself and how you live the other days of your week? What did you learn about your relationship with God? Make plans for next week’s Sabbath!