17 July 2023 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
I just listened to a sermon on how holy the Sabbath is. I agree in principle, but my next question is, besides my usual church services, what do I do to please God besides sit and read the Bible and listen to 3ABN? That’s boring.
Signed, Bored with Sabbath!
One of the reasons there is such confusion about the Sabbath’s free time is that we want to reduce it to a list of do’s and don’ts. Instead of telling you how far you can wade into a lake on the Sabbath, or whether you can watch The Sound of Music, Aunty directs you back to the reason for the Sabbath given in these two texts.
And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Genesis 2:2
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…. Exodus 20:8-9
Our modern lives are jam-packed with responsibilities: work, church, kids, pets, hobbies, friends, housework, bills to pay—everywhere we turn we carry the stress of responsibilities.
So if you want to please God, you will do on Sabbath whatever makes you happy and relaxed—not to mention grateful for God’s gift of absolving us for that day of the burden of responsibility we carry all week.
The questions you should be asking yourself aren’t “What can I do and what can’t I do?” but rather, “What would it look like if I lay aside my burdens and do whatever it takes—preferably something I don’t get to do at other times—to have a real rest, body and soul? What activities can I participate in that will strengthen my relationships with myself, God, my family, and my friends?”
Sometimes it might be actual rest, as in taking a Sabbath nap—Aunty sees that as a good use of the Sabbath after a hard week of work. If reading is encouraging to you, do that. But you can do many other things, like playing games with the family, going to a museum or garden, or a bit of bird-watching, or catching up with a friend. Aunty thinks fellowship with family and friends should be a major component of Sabbath rest, whether on a walk, some backyard games, or (depending on your age) over a coffee and pastry at Starbucks.
Or what about pampering yourself? Remember, the point is to rest and relax in the most effective ways, and that could mean a bath with some music playing and a cup of tea, or a nice snooze on the patio.
Aunty’s point: it really isn’t up to your pastor or the General Conference office how you spend your Sabbath hours. It should be between you and God—always remembering the Sabbath’s original intent, which is to rest! So if you get relaxed and refreshed, you’ll please God!
Avoid do and don’t lists—a lot more things are permissible under that principle of a weekly rest and refreshment than have usually been on the typical Adventist lists. Remember what Jesus said (rendered here in Aunty’s version): “Human beings weren’t made to be slaves to the Sabbath. Instead, the Sabbath was created for your mental, physical, and spiritual benefit.”
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—without identifying the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.