“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy”

We are back after our summer Sabbath.
Thank you to Connie Knapp for launching our blog into this new year.

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Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A funny word, Sabbath.
Where does this word come from? In old English, the word “sabat” meant “Saturday as a day of rest.”  So Sabbath simply means “Saturday as a day of rest.”

Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.” 
Oh yeah, one of the Ten Commandments.

So I’m pondering; what does this say to me, to us, about Sabbath keeping in the 21st century. This is one of the Ten Commandments, isn’t it? What should I do, or not do, on the Sabbath?

Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine sister, has written a book on the Ten Commandments, calling them Laws of the Heart. For her, the Third Commandment is the Law of Remembrance. Here’s how she begins this chapter:

“In my Grandmother Chittister’s house, good Protestant that she was, absolutely nothing happened on Sunday except church, Sunday school, and the family meal. She did not play the radio. She did not sew. She did not work around the house. You didn’t have to be a philosopher in that house to figure out that Sunday was a different kind of day. “

This might sound familiar to some of us. Some of us grew up in homes like that. But I love sister Joan’s reaction. She tells us, “I didn’t much like to be in Grandma Chittister’s house on Sundays.  …But, from her, I got a message about life that stayed with me forever….Life is about listening to the music of the soul. “

Sister Joan goes on to remind us that “surely the real sin to which the third commandment points is not the sin of not going to church on Sunday. It is the sin of not seriously seeking God.”

I’m not suggesting that you skip church.
I’m suggesting that you seriously seek God.
Listen to the music of your soul.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Whatever that means to you.

Connie Knapp is a Ruling Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Yorktown and a participant in the Commissioned Ruling Elders program of the Hudson River Presbytery.

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