Some pastors observe sabbath well. Their day away from work is markedly different from the other six, and there is something special and holy about what they doand don't doon that day. For others, the sabbath feels like another work day, another day of handling holy things thateven with the best of intentionsseems to have nothing particularly holy about it. It isn't set apart. It isn't even restful.
When you work with holy things all week long, what is it you are resting from when sabbath finally arrives?
Ben, the pastor of a small urban congregation in Seattle, keeps a Sunday sabbath. He is alone quite a bit during the week, so he relishes his time with people on Sunday mornings at church and with his wife's extended family in the afternoon.
For Ben, the heart of the sabbath is appreciating what God has given him. He makes an effort to walk slowly around the church building on Sundays in order to be present to the gift of the moment and the place. At coffee hour, he tries not to talk church business with parishioners. Instead, he tries to enjoy them. He does the same with his children. He figures six days a week is enough to try to shape his children and teach them. On Sundays, he simply enjoys who they are and how they are growing. He tries to do small household tasks like emptying the dishwasher so his wife can also have a sabbath.
Marva Dawn, a Christian theologian, writer and speaker, has described a Sunday sabbath pattern similar to Ben's. She is willing to engage in ministry on Sundays in the form of speaking or preaching, but she will not do any work of preparation. A Sunday sabbath affirms the connection between corporate worship and resting in God, but for many pastors, Sunday morning is such ...