I could probably sing all four verses of the hymn, “Safely Through Another Week”, in my sleep- Jamaican accent and all. Some Friday nights I still catch myself humming the strains of “Now the Day is Over”.
From birth, it was drilled into me that everything stops when the sun goes down on Friday evenings. It is the Sabbath. It is a holy day.
I always had the hardest time explaining the Sabbath to non-Adventists growing up. Yes, I go to church on Saturday, not Sunday. No I’m not Jewish, I’m a Christian. Yes, I believe in the new covenant.
Non-Adventist Friend: So why do you keep the Sabbath?
13 year old me: Because, the fourth commandment starts with “remember”.
LOL I was cute.
As a pastor’s kid, Sabbath was always the biggest and most important day (and event) of the week. Everything started and ended with Sabbath. There were no breaks. After all, Saturday is ALWAYS coming. You can’t hide from it.
I spent Friday afternoons after school cleaning the house and ironing me and my brothers’ clothes for church. Never quite understood why the entire house had to be clean for Sabbath. Actually, I still don’t. And God forbid I had to iron my shirt on Saturday morning. That definitely counted as breaking the Sabbath and I would never hear the end of it.
Growing up, Saturdays meant fancy outfits, seeing my friends, and worrying about what veggie meat they’d serve after church.
As I moved into my teenage years, Sabbaths consisted of giving my Sabbath School teachers hell, dancing to the latest Mary Mary CD with my friends in the church parking lot, and trying to avoid AYS (For the non-Adventists, AYS is the youth service on Saturday afternoons).
Sabbath ended in church- yes I spent the whole day at church- singing, “Day is dying in the west…” (my accent for that song is pretty good too) They would wait until exactly 7:21pm, when sun had “officially set”, to end service.
Sabbath was over. At last we could leave and have some real fun. Or at least finally turn on the tv.
I had a raging headache and was exhausted. But hey, at least I didn’t sing any secular songs or buy anything for 24 hours. So I’d done it. I’d kept the Sabbath…right?
For Seventh-day Adventists, the Sabbath is the doctrine of all doctrines. It is the basis of everything. It’s in our name! So for most of us, if our belief in the Sabbath falls apart, everything else falls apart too. It’s one of the reasons why Adventists will defend it to the death.
I take it that’s why a certain Adventist pastor felt like he had to officially debate it with a non-Sabbatarian…*sips tea*
I understand why some people swear by keeping it. Taking one day a week to rest, worship, and fellowship with other Christians is great for us spiritually, emotionally, and physically. At the same time, I understand why others believe that it’s not something that has to be done. After all, keeping the Ten Commandments is not what makes a Christian (yes, I know every Adventist reading this just clutched their pearls…relax, you’ll be alright).
So I’m not here to tell anyone that they need to keep that Sabbath. That’s your business.
What I will question is why what should be the BEST day of the week is often the most tiring and miserable one. Adventists have such a warped view of the Sabbath that it’s become burden. Can’t do this. Turn that off. Sit down. Be quiet. Listen. It’s exhausting.
As a kid and teenager – and well into my twenties tbh- Sabbath was a day I secretly despised. I had been taught to focus on what I could not do on Saturdays. The day was crammed with activities so I wouldn’t knowingly or unknowingly “break” the Sabbath. Simply put, Sabbaths were restrictive, boring, and draining. I was more tired after a day at church than after a day at work or school.
It just didn’t seem right.
These days, my view of the Sabbath is a lot healthier. For me it’s a day to restart my week, refocus my energy and attention, and get some well needed rest- Sabbath naps are amazing.
Now I can see the beauty in being able to stop, rest, and ignore the world for 24 hours. I no longer have to keep the Sabbath out of fear, guilt, or obligation. I also don’t need to do any fancy exegesis, faulty proof texting, use corny cliches, or debate anyone to defend why I choose to observe the Sabbath the way I’ve been convicted to.
Sabbath isn’t ruined if I accidentally start singing Bodak Yellow after church and quickly change the words to a bible verse.
Not being in church at 9:15am for Sabbath School doesn’t make me a bad Christian. It just means I spent five days getting up early for work and I’m tired. So, I’m using this day of rest to…rest. It makes me human.
Speaking of rest, it’s time for my Sabbath nap.