One of the criticisms that gets lobbed at Sabbath-keeping is that it’s a solitary, selfish, navel-gazing exercise. I talk about this some in the book. Sabbath began as a communal observance among the Jews, and later the Christians. If Sabbath has become a solitary pursuit, that’s because the culture turned its back on it such that Sabbath is now observed only in small pockets.
There’s nothing inherently inward-focusing about the Sabbath, in other words. It is God-focused, or if you prefer, other-focused. Without the distractions of work, we are able to tend to our relationships more deeply. Without the busyness of our produce-and-consume lifestyle, we have space to discern a better, more sustainable pattern of living. Sabbath allows us to be present to the enough-ness of our world.
Our family’s Sabbath experiment led me to think more deeply about justice, especially around issues of time. I became uncomfortable with family outings on Sabbath because it relied on the work of others. I never resolved this tension fully, though we did curtail those kinds of events over time.
But Sabbath highlighted other themes as well. Paid time off is a justice issue. Parental leave is a justice issue. Wealth inequality is a justice issue that connects to Sabbath because Sabbath was meant to be accessible to all, not just the haves. Environmental issues connect with Sabbath as well.
Many of us feel drawn to Sabbath because we know in our hearts that a 24-7 existence is neither sustainable nor desirable. But I talk to others who are turned off by Sabbath because it seems too woo-woo squishy, not edgy enough, too me-focused. Is that you? Here are a series of studies created by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, called Sabbath Reflections: Capitalism and Inequity versus a Gospel Mandate. I haven’t used them but there is solid stuff here—theological, sociological, justice-oriented.
Check them out… and afterward, once you’re convinced of the need and are ready to go into the “how” of Sabbath, I’ve got a great book to recommend… 😉