The fourth commandment invites us to “Keep holy the Sabbath day.” For Jews, this means Saturday, of course – a day set aside from work, which can include worship, rest, play, study of Scripture, gathering with friends and family, and time alone. Sabbath is understood as a gift, a break from the workaday world.
Christians shifted focus to the Lord’s Day on Sunday – the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Unfortunately, Christians such as the Puritans developed lots of rules about what you can’t do on the Christian Sabbath – basically, fun was not allowed!
Nowadays, a minority of Americans attend worship on any given Sabbath, and the day goes by much like any other day – full of errands, athletic practices and matches, homework, emails, and housework. Sabbath is no longer distinctive time, no longer set apart.
Nobody wants to return to the straightjacket of the Puritan Sabbath rules, but it’s worth asking what we have lost as we have given up all notions of the Sabbath day being different from the rest. Why did God work for six days in Creation, but rest on the seventh? Does it really matter? As creatures, how can we keep God’s pattern of life, and keep holy the Sabbath day? JBM