Saturday, 5 January 2013

Observing the Sabbath


I was browsing through the Ten Commandments in the Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer, as one does, and noticed the phrase at the end of the Second:

For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and visit the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shew mercy unto thousands in them that love me and keep my commandments.  

...and keep my commandments.


Of which number IV is to keep holy the Sabbath day... In it thou shalt do no manner of work...

And I realized that I was not even trying to fulfil this commandment.


So, from this Sabbath I resolve not to do work, which means no blogging - and no distracting or entertaining myself reading blogs, or the news, or amusing myself with distractions, or gossiping.

When I am not doing directly Christian things (Church, Scripture, Edifying matter, Prayer etc); I need to devote the Sabbath to sustaining and strengthening Home and Family (which purpose includes chores, repairs; and also reasonably-wholesome group activities which serve to strengthen and sustain the family).

No doubt I will forget and fail in this observation of the Sabbath - but when I do forget or fail I will need to repent and ask forgiveness, and resolve to try again.


NOTE ADDED 3 March 2012 - I failed to live up to this resolution - in fact my Sabbath observance is much worse now than when I made it. This demonstrates - as well as my own feebleness - the dangers inherent in such resolutions. 


Jonathan C said...

Which Sabbath do you plan to observe? The Friday sunset through Saturday sunset Sabbath, the Sunday Sabbath, or some other?

Given the ambiguity and the historical calendar changes, I suppose one could simply pick whichever weekly 24-hour period one thinks could be most effectively devoted to one's devotions.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JC - I am (still) an Anglican - and I am not awake for 24 hours of the day!

Daybreaker said...

I wish you a life of joyous sabbaths to come!

Why do you make exceptions for chores and repairs?

dearieme said...

But what does the Good Lord mean by "work"? Does he mean any exertion or does he mean paid employment/self-employment?

Even as a nipper I noticed the inconsistency of the minister preaching on a Sunday.

Andrew Beane said...

So with the answer of Anglican, one can assume you observe Sunday as the Sabbath. Is there any Biblical support for the change from the Saturday (sundown to sundown) Sabbath to its Sunday (midnight to midnight) replacement?

Bruce Charlton said...

Guys, Guys - Don't give me the third degree! - I'm just telling you why I won't be blogging on Sundays from now on.

Samson said...

All great comments/questions so far. My grandparents, and my wife's family (but not mine), grew up with fairly strict (by modern standards) rules governing Sunday behaviour. On the one hand you're right - it's in the Commandments, and this ought not to be dismissed. On the other hand, "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" - why on earth does it make sense to do "chores" but not enjoy oneself?!? This seems like the *opposite* of what should be done...?

I will say that over the course of discussions about this with my wife, we have adopted a fairly loose (and lame) policy: that our understanding of the Sabbath commandment is that man needs a day of rest per week, and consequently we will generally try not to do (much) work on Sundays, instead spending time enjoying ourselves and our family.

James Higham said...

I do no unnecessary work on Sunday. That is, I'll cook but other things have to be on other days.

Andrew Beane said...

No third degree intended, and your blogging is appreciated no matter when it appears :)

Bruce Charlton said...


Keeping Sunday for church, family, and rest/recreation is a conservative/reactionary practice that many such-minded people -can- undertake if they set themselves to do so. It is thanks to this practice that I have many of my best memories of my father from when I lived at home. He worked far too many hours during the week, as director of finance for a beautiful city in southern Oregon. But he -would not- work on Sunday (with maybe a few exceptions throughout many years). And so after Sunday dinner my dad and I usually went for hikes in the hills around town. Those are some of the best memories, really, of my entire life (I'm now in my mid-fifties). Dad could have eased up a bit during the week, maybe stayed home and watched a little TV, and then worked Sunday afternoons. What an incredible loss to me that would have been. A loss not only to my relationship with my father, but to my experience of the natural world.

Thank God -- with Dad's good example imprinted on my memory, while my children were growing up I kept Sunday free from stuff related to my job (except for some reading connected with literature teaching, which I enjoyed); and that was good for me, and also made it possible for me to take many afternoon walks with one or other of my own children. Much of whatever good family culture we had would have arisen in the context of not "working" on Sundays.

I will say too that the practice of "tithing" is one that many of us -can- practice if we simply make a habit of it. My wife and I interpreted -tithing- more broadly than some people; so we did not give the entire 10% to the church we attended. Some of it, for example, went to our state's home school association. I mention this not to praise myself, but just to say that "tithing" 10%-is- a worthy practice that many of us don't follow but could. We are not "affluent" by American standards, but we have always been able to tithe and our needs have been met. I know that some people like to think of tithing in terms of more than just income, e.g. tithing one's time and so on, but I'd recommend that 10% giving. I don't see it as necessarily a sin if one doesn't, but would recommend people consider it, perhaps as something to aim for if, at first, it seems impossible. I think many of us would be surprised at what we can do without, even would be better off without, if we chose to "economize" in order to be able to tithe. Tithing can remind us that "we give Thee but Thine own, whate'er the gift may be; all that we have is Thine alone, a trust, O Lord, from Three."

Daybreaker said...

No-one expects the comment-thread inquisition!

The Continental Op said...

Thank you. If every blogger did this, I could stay off the internet, too.

Bruce B. said...

I’ve recently started the practice of only reading online sermons on Sunday – no news, politics, entertainment, etc. I’ve also tried to avoid homeschooling lessons for our children on Sunday.