upper room daily devotions

Friday, April 25, 2008

Committing to Sabbath...Maybe

I have written several posts that highlight my increased awareness that Christianity - and the people that make it up - would be stronger, more spiritual, more connected to God and one another, more committed to justice, and more healthy if we were to embrace the practice of Sabbath. I have preached on this in my church and I have read widely about the importance of setting aside one day for God. I guess it's now time to put up or shut up, so I've decided to try keeping Sabbath...in my own way...soon.

What I've learned is that I am not particularly invested in keeping Sabbath as defined by observant Jews - that is, by refraining from the 39 activities used to build the Temple. I have also learned that keeping Sabbath will be less informative to my spiritual life and less effective if I do it alone - outside of community. So, I've been meeting with a friend for several weeks to discuss what Sabbath might be for a group of Christians. And now I've talked with a few other friends who have mentioned some interest in joining the conversation.

This conversation is only part of something I've dreamed about for a long. Ever since divinity school I've wanted to be part of an intentional community based on Sabbath, Sacraments, and Service. Circumstances have been kind to me and I've had the opportunity to participate in a couple of intentional communities; they were wonderful experiences. They stirred up a sense of hope that a community centered on Sabbath, Sacraments, and Service is possible. The overall hope is to create a covenant community of just a few people who will covenant to a shared understanding of Sabbath and Service (and take part in Holy Communion regularly) eventually adding a living community in the city that will share Sabbath, Sacraments, and Service with one another. One day we will hopefully have a farm/retreat center.

In addition to these covenant communities, I see the addition of physicians, physical therapists, nutritionists, spiritual directors, life coaches, chiropractors, trainers, and other professionals who will work with people seeking a holistic approach to life. The would help people set goals, keep focus, care for our bodies and connect them with our spirits. Eventually, this would become a holistic coop in which all people could participate, but one that would have a special emphasis for working class and poor folks who could never afford these services in the free market.

The goal is to create an ever-expanding community with varying commitment levels for people to seek centeredness in life with a core group focused on the power of Sabbath. This is a dream that has lived inside of me for a long time.

But I have to start somewhere and I'm starting with gathering serious people to dialogue about the initial covenant to Sabbath. I'll see where this goes.

Any history of participation in like communities? Let me know...

1 comment:

David Stoker said...

I don't know your level of exposure or personal knowledge about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormons, but I grew up in an LDS home and practice myself today and they are generally very much in the vein of Sabbath-observers, covenant-orientated, service-based communities. Activities that I associate with the Sabbath day as part of my community/family are a break from the world, traditionally we don't work or shop or recreate like a normal day in the week. As a family we are more likely to go for a walk in the park, to visit with extended family or neighbors, my family would often plays games together.

We also come together with the community of the saints (saints meaning general followers of Christ and not the Catholic designation as Saints). The central covenant or ordinance is communion or the sacrament where we recommit to always remember the sacrifice of Christ and follow in God's ways. Beyond that the Sabbath day in a Mormon community is not a day of rest it terms of inactivity, it is a day full of service, general members are preparing lessons, preparing sermons, teaching sunday school, meeting to discuss the needs both temporal and spiritual of members of the community. The Sabbath day is a common day for people to visit each other, typically a pair is given stewardship of a handful of families. So growing up me and my Dad would go to the homes of some families every month and just visit, talk about the scriptures and our challenges and celebrations in their life.

In the evenings on the Sabbath Mormons often go to what they call "firesides" a reference back to the days when it literally was a gathering around a fire for an evening chat. Firesides can be simply music, often speakers on various topics generally followed by food and mingling among the community.

I have always loved Sundays as a Mormon, it really is a special day, a break from the day to day grind of the world, a weekly refueling.

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