Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son, or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it” (Exodus 20:8-11).

How do we keep the Sabbath holy? As Lutheran Christians many of us were taught through Luther’s Small Catechism to keep the Sabbath holy by fearing and loving God, “…so that we do not despise preaching or His Word but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” According to Luther, the Sabbath was less about rest and more about attending public worship and making use of God’s Word and Sacraments. Participating in public worship is important. Taking a day for rest is also important. Both practices (worship and rest) are sacred and draw us deeper into a relationship with the living God. We need to worship, and we need to rest.

In Exodus, the keeping of Sabbath is directly tied to work. “For six days you shall labor and do your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God, and you shall not do any work.” God’s people are called to a seventh day of rest, as God rested from creation on the seventh day. And not only did God rest, but God also “blessed the Sabbath Day and consecrated it.” God made the seventh day holy, and we keep the Sabbath holy through the spiritual practice of rest.

For thousands of years God’s people have put God’s gift of Sabbath rest into practice. And during this season of Lent in this Year of Rest, I’m going to give it a try, or at least “fail forward” in my attempt to keep the Sabbath holy. “Failing forward” is a favorite phrase of mine. When you tinker with a new endeavor, you don’t always succeed the first time. Failing forward is learning from your failure, adapting your approach, and trying it again, and again, and again. Tinker and try long enough and you will learn to master the new practice.

During the 40 Days of Lent, I am going to use the Monthly Rest Calendars to practice daily moments of active rest. Monday morning (February 19), I read the weekly verse from Exodus 20:11, and then spent some time in intentional silence. Please click here to access February’s Monthly Rest Calendar.

During the 40 Days of Lent, I am going to learn about God’s gift of Sabbath rest from three excellent scholars / writers:

Sabbath as Resistance: Saying NO to the Culture of NOW by Dr. Walter Brueggemann
Click here to access Sabbath as Resistance

The Sabbath by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (a classic)
Click here to access The Sabbath

Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller.
Click here to access Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives