This Advent my family and I have resolved to practice Sabbath. This means for us as a family the praying of the hours and for me individually the reduction of non essential work (i.e. starting no new projects and focusing exclusively on the development of pre existing relationships).
In my prayers I have asked God to give me the courage to live slowly, to truly see and hear the people I encounter throughout the day and to give me a heart and mind towards Sabbath.
Although it has only been a week of practicing this discipline I have found that Prayer has become an essential part of my day. To the point where I am shocked that I ever existed without doing it with greater frequency.
I have discovered that Sabbath, is as Walter Brueggemann teaches truly an act of resistance. Living my life attuned towards Sabbath rest is truly freeing and liberating experience that reminds me that I and my family are ultimately accountable to God. I am reminded of the Psalm of forgiveness David prays, Against you, and you alone have I sinned oh God. Sabbath practice has shown me that we are all God’s children, all accountable to God and all loved by God.
This realization simultaneously increases and decreases the importance of each person and interaction. It liberates me from the need and desire to please people but convicts me to love more deeply and fully. Freed from the fear of disappointing or saving others I have entered into a space of deep connection, love and liberation.
This practice has also revealed how odd and rare the practice of rest and reflection is in our culture. In my desire to move slower I can see others around me moving at fast forward, frantically trying to keep time that there never seems to be enough of. Yet Sabbath has taught that there is enough time, infact time is infinite, sprawling and unchanging . God gives us time as a gift, a tool to love each other and to find peace and love in him.
I have found that Sabbath practice has caused me to see the injustices I experience as a black man in our culture more clearly. I have seen how this culture demands that I justify it by submitting to it even as it refuses to acknowledge my humanity and individuality. Sabbath and prayer ground me in the divinity of my humanity and compels me to act as simply a man, a child of God, nothing more and nothing less. It has given me the freedom to assert the simple but profound authority I have as a human, born free and designed to live free.
Sabbath practice has not been easy but it has been good in the best possible way. I look forward to experiencing more of what God has to teach me through this discipline.