The Sabbath Quandary

Yesterday I got an email from a friend of mine.  She asked if I could meet her for lunch on Sunday so we could talk about the film festival we worked at last fall.  She was one of the integral volunteers at the festival, not quite a director, but probably one of the five most important people involved (we will call them the ‘Fly Five’ here on out). The festival could not have functioned without this friend. Now she wants to get my opinion on how the festival ran last year and how I want to be involved this year.

I do not, for a few reasons.

1.  I did not feel particularly needed or appreciated last year.  I was somewhere in between a run of the mill volunteer/flunky and the Fly Five), which basically meant that I worked more than other volunteers for less perks.
2.  The work that I did was the work that the Fly Five did not want to do, which is fact, not speculation, because they told me as much.  I took a lot of time out of my schedule to make sure that everything I did for them was exceptional, regardless. On the second to last day of the festival they told me that my work was not very important.
3.  Men.

I will keep you posted on that half of the story as it updates (if it is entertaining), but there was something more interesting in that first paragraph:

She wanted to meet on Sunday.

Background:  Recently, I decided to start doing two things that I did not even do when I was a hardcore, obnoxious, in your face, move-out-the-way variety Christian.

I have started tithing.  When I was young I did this as a formality.  Whenever I got birthday money or cash from babysitting or I would take 10% and put it into an envelope labeled “Tithes”, which was then meant to go to church or a charity I thought God would like. Somehow the money never made it from the envelope in my sock drawer into the offering basket.

I have also decided to observe Sabbath, which I have never done for more than five hours at a time (which does not count.)  My current plan is to not do anything work related on Sundays or use any technology.  This definitely covers computer and cell phone and I am pretty sure that I will extend the ban to television (and therefore movie theaters) and music players as well.  Cameras, I think, do not count.  Sabbath is midnight to midnight.

Reaction:  When I was trying to figure out how to respond to my friend, I realized that this will probably be a rather common occurrence.  I will get invitations to gatherings and meetings and I will have to turn them down on religious grounds.  Will I be honest about why I cannot attend meetings, see movies or make a little extra cash on Sundays, or will I hide the truth?

There are both religious and secular reasons to hide the truth.  “Do not let your left hand see what your right hand is doing” would be the religious reason.  The secular reasons are too many to name, but can probably be summarized in a word and a short phrase:  “shame” and “fear of seeming pretentious.”  It seems stupid to lie, though.  If Sabbath is important enough for me to clear my Sundays, it only makes sense that I am honest about it if it comes up.

This dilemma is new territory for me.

Religiously (spiritually, if you prefer) I have no idea where I stand.  I enjoy praying, especially the long thankful prayer that has become my morning standard and covers everything from sunshine to family, a nice bed and friends who care about me.  I do not read my bible often, but I read the devotional, My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers), that Vicki gave to me.  My dedication to that is great enough that every day I read the assigned entry several times, with highlighter and pencil in hand.

I do not think I am a religious (spiritual) enough person to have this issue, but that is probably why it is one.  I have the desire to explore further and have realized that I can do that through the Sabbath, but due to my uncertainty, I do not yet have the confidence to own that desire.

Concisely, I believe in my gut, but not in my head.  Oswald Chambers says this is ok.  Oswald Chambers is not God, but maybe God agrees with him.

The hope is that, like my prayers of thanksgiving, Sabbath will give me an opportunity to get a little bit closer to this big, invisible something that the me of my childhood loved.  The hours devoid of technology, worldly problems and money will be filled instead with prayer, church, introspection, conversation, and the reading of all sorts of religious texts and commentaries.  I am not limiting my Sabbath to Christianity.  I am limiting it to the big Something.

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2 Responses to The Sabbath Quandary

  1. mike v says:

    “Oswald Chambers is not God, but maybe God agrees with him.” that’s a great sentence, better viewpoint than us trying to figure out God. interesting post. don’t know what i would do.

  2. blesshsu says:

    hey hol. i’ve been thinking over this since i first read it. didn’t really have much to say except, “Like.” hope that the sabbath thing has been good. i love “the sabbath thing,” but maybe sabbatical has got me biased…

    i’m impressed with the commitment. it’s kinda “old school,” but i think it’s really instructive to the soul to choose less. just like fasting. which i’m trying to re-up in my own life. i went to this seminar a few weeks back and this guy talked about “downward mobility” – choices you make to do less or be less, not necessarily in quantity but maybe in station, or in the regard of other people. but how it’s awesome for the soul. yeah baby.

    also, i can’t imagine you being uppity about sabbath, ever. so go on with your bad self.

    and big ups on my utmost. that thing is still managing to poke big holes in my brain. darn you, truth.

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