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I remember very clearly the moment when I first glimpsed the possibility that my Christian faith might be a source of guidance through the time crunch that was my life. It was a Saturday night, and a few teachers were sitting around a dinner table. Tomorrow, we complained, would not be a happy day. Great piles of papers needed grading, and we had promised our students that we would return them on Monday. And so we whined, and as we whined our complaints gradually shaded into boasts. Someone listening in might have thought that we were competing to see who had to grade the most, who worked hardest, and who was most put upon by the demands of his or her job. That's when it hit me. "Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy." This was a commandment, one of the ten laws in the basic moral code of Christianity, Judaism, and Western civilization, and here we were, hatching plans to violate it. I could not imagine this group sitting around saying, "I'm planning to take God's name in vain"; "I'm planning to commit adultery"; "I think I'll steal something." Yes, we might occasionally break one of the other commandments ("You shall not covet" is an especially hard one for me), but if we did, we would hardly boast.Our approach to the Sabbath commandment was different. We had become so captivated by our work, so impressed by its demands on us and by our own indispensability, that it had simply vanished from our consciousness. We were in the habit of churchgoing, though our whines included a little complaint even about this. But I knew in my bones that we were a long way from keeping the Sabbath holy. I began to wonder what that meant and why it mattered.This "aha!" moment set me off on an exploration of the ancient practice of keeping ...

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March 2000

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