What is the last time you experienced Sabbath? Even for Christians, that term has fallen out of usage, and that's not surprising since most don't practice it. Other than the fact that Christians somewhat regularly attend church on Sunday, their Sunday practices and habits are not so different than those of non-Christians. Most Christians I know eat at restaurants on Sunday, shop at the mall or grocery store, do yard work, attend or play in athletic events, do house work, work on the car, watch TV, surf the Internet and respond to emails, and so on. They may not go to work at the office (though some do), probably because I don't know many who work in retail, but they do all of these other things that are similar to what they do every other day of the week. So Sunday, what some term the Christian Sabbath, is, but for church attendance, just another day for many.
I am a non-Sabbatarian, that is, I do not believe that the Fourth Commandment's requirement of a particular day when work ceases and we enter a holy rest is a part of the moral law. But when I observe the unceasing commerce, the non-stop activity around me, sometimes I wish I held that belief, and I even consider keeping the day because I think it's a wise thing to do.
God promises believers His rest, his Sabbath. While I know that more is entailed than the promise of a particular day, the day God gave the Israelites is symbolic of that deeper rest, and symbols have tangible meaning. Most of us have lost that symbol. And having lost the symbol we are in danger of losing the rest He promises in a substantial if imperfect way now. His rest, His Sabbath, is really a gift, not a burden, a time of refreshment, not a time when a killjoy God takes away our toys and requires us to be in church all day or thinking holy thoughts. We don't have to do the things that we do all week. We can lay aside all diversions. We can worship, rest, enjoy Creation, do some extended reading, and play with our children. Those tangible things done on one particular day are the memory that we can cherish during the rest of the week and the promise we can incorporate into our work-days in some way. It is also the promise of a deeper, more fully-realized rest to come.
I'm old enough to remember the cultural Sabbath of the South. Stores were not open. There was no email and no Internet. We did not eat out. Back then as a child I sometimes wished that something would happen, just for some excitement. Now, I wish it back. Not because I think it's required, but because I think it prudent and wise, just as I am not required to wear my wedding band to cherish my marriage, and yet that tangible ring is a reminder of all that is promised in marriage.
I need a Sabbath rest. How about you?