Sabbath is something that I don’t do well. Many of us don’t do it well. Many of our churches don’t do it well, and so I’m always interested in hearing how some folks have experimented with Sabbath in their lives, in their churches and sought to find new ways to make room and space for the Holy.
During my first year of seminary, some of us decided we were going to honor the Sabbath during Lent. No homework, no other kind of work, just hanging out together and enjoying life. While it didn’t continue beyond Lent, I found it to be a refreshing time for myself.
When I served Asbury United Methodist Church, we spent one month focusing on Sabbath and Sabbath practices during worship, and actually took a month off from having church meetings. No evening meetings. No committee meetings. And only staff meetings if we absolutely needed to meet, and then we kept it brief. It was wonderful. Wonderful to have those evenings back, those times to spend with family and not be so consumed with the busy-ness of church life.
But perhaps the coolest thing I ran across recently, was a Sabbath experiment led by Kara Root and Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church. You can read some specifics about their experiment here, but they essentially stopped meeting for Sunday morning worship 2 weeks out of the month. On the 1st and 3rd Sundays, they worship together on Sunday mornings, but on the 2nd and 4th Sundays, they meet together on Saturday evenings for a service together and then enjoy Sundays as a day of rest.
Speaking about their Sabbath experiment, which has turned into a way of life for their community, Kara writes:
Practicing Sabbath in this way has infected our whole communal life. Our session meetings are worshipful, we retreat more as a community, we remind each other to rest, we say “no” more, and “yes” more too. Sabbath is teaching us who we are and reminding us whose we are. And our one-year experiment has become a way of life for our church community.
You can read more about their experiment on Kara’s “Happy Sabbath Anniversary” post.
I love how they were able to get creative with something that I’m guessing for so many churches would be a “sacred cow” – the Sunday morning worship time. But Lake Nokomis was able to think creatively about what their community needed to grow spiritually and really invest in this new rhythm of life, and were able to come up with an outside-the-box idea. If only more of our faith communities were able to do this.