Monday, January 15, 2007

Creation Sabbath

Painted Leaves?
Since Charity has been talking about the Sabbath, and Al has been discussing creation care, I thought I'd put the two together in a post of my own.

I got this little brainstorm after writing Mud Marvel— a post on my other blog, that considers why you and I are not as impressive as a bucket of sea mud.

Anyway, to put Sabbath and creation care together, I started re-reading Redeeming Creation. And I found this great quote regarding the thoughts of Orthodox Jew David Ehrenfeld...

Ehrenfeld notes that an observant Jew would observe the Sabbath by more than resting and praying, and refraining from ordinary work. Three other aspects are carefully followed: creating nothing, destroying nothing, and enjoying the bounty of the earth.

To be careful that nothing is created reminds us that God is the supreme Creator. To be careful that nothing is destroyed reminds us that the world is God's creation, and not our possession to ruin. To enjoy the earth's bounty reminds us that God, not human invention, is the source of that bounty."

Wow. What would this kind of Sabbath look like, if we attempted to observe it even just a little?

Photo by Saima Barkat and L.L. Barkat.


Blogger Andrea said...

For us, the Sabbath means "no unneccesary work". Feeding our family or friends is considered "neccesary". Cleaning the dishes afterward is "neccesary". Laundry and straightening the house is "unneccesary". Taking a nap and resting as best we can is "neccesary". Every Sabbath could look different. But it's supposed to.

5:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow.. great post. I have some things to think about :)

8:03 AM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

It is not too difficult to observe that the (ten) commandments of the Lord are given for our protection and provision. They also reflect the character and values of God. Why is it so difficult to understand what it means to keep the Sabbath holy? I must confess that I have not fully embraced the concept and therefore, have not led my family to do so. Now, I wonder what kind of consequences I may have brought upon us because of neglect.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Al Hsu said...

That's a great quote. And it reminds me of a quote from Christian ethicist and environmentalist Bill McKibben who comments something to the effect that God's message at the end of the book of Job is essentially that creation exists whether or not humans are present within it to appreciate it or not. Admittedly it's harder to appreciate creation in the winter in Illinois when we don't want to go outside in the cold.

Let me also plug Lynne Baab's Sabbath Keeping, a very helpful little book on the topic (and it got a starred review in Publishers Weekly). And I have to say that the most significant factor in my practice of sabbath has been going to a church that meets on Saturday nights (because we're a new church plant that meets in another church's building). So for us, sabbath begins with corporate worship at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, and all day Sunday is spent practicing sabbath. It's been wonderful not to have to rush to get kids ready on Sunday mornings and instead have the time to make pancakes, go for a walk in the park, whatever.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the two places that Sabbath is commanded in the OT as part of the 10 Commandments, once it is linked with creation (God created 6 days and rested on the Sabbath), and once with redemption (God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, so remember the Sabbath). These two ideas have kept me thinking that integral to Sabbath-keeping is creation and redemption -- how we remember them, how we honor God for them, how we are agents of them as imagebearers, and how we rest from them because we are not God.

Great post, LL! I hadn't thought about sabbath from this angle.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also highly recommend Lynne Baab's book. I learned a lot about Sabbath, and was challenged to move ahead in observing Sabbath, because of this book.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

Create nothing? I'm not sure I could bear that. Do Al's pancakes count as creation?

Would a poem count as creation?

Would a blog entry? How about a blog comment? Or an email?

How about spoken creation? Would a five minute monologue count as creation? How about a five minute dialogue? How about a regular conversation?

I'm not trying to be a dork (it just comes naturally) and I'm just thinking. At what point does communication became an act of creation?

3:40 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Andrea... interesting way to think about it. (So, you're saying I've got to feed the kids?)

Stephanie... when you think about them, let us know. We value your ideas here.

Craver... I do find it fascinating that we have so many conversations around this topic. As you say, are we this lost? Or, is it that we know what we should be doing, and we wish we did not?

Al... a radical thought, I suppose. For, we humans like to think it all exists for us. I like how your church experience is organized. What a concept... to spend a whole day home or in the park! (with sweet pancakes to greet the morning)

Charity... what was your favorite, or most challenging thing you took away from the book?

Mark... yes, I think the Orthodox approach can be too restrictive sometimes, but I really like the overall principles. They get me thinking in broad strokes. And, I will say I think communication is creative, especially between tired parents and energetic kids who are pounding their forks on the table for more of Al's pancakes!!

4:54 PM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

I love Stefani's artwork, she is so good, is she a friend?

6:29 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Martin... Stefani's artwork is beautiful indeed (though, in this post, it is "yours truly" teamed up with a sister-in-law, taking a picture at the New York Botanical Garden)... regarding Stefani, she is an artist who graciously agreed to collaborate here, through a connection at Rock & Sling journal. I've never met her; I simply enjoy her wonderful creations.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., I really do think our Sundays or Sabbath has become too inundated with customs and practices that really do not help us rest and reflect on God and on his creation, as you share here. I think we need an all around slower paced lifestyle, with Sunday or our Sabbath, being the epitome of that.

7:49 PM  
Blogger eph2810 said...

those are some incredible thoughts. Especially "not destroying anything" - I like that.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Pair of Noid said...

best think I've heard yet on how to really honor the sabbath apart from legalistic customs and cultural stupidity. I think it honors the spirit of the command better than anything else I've heard.

12:50 PM  
Blogger spaghettipie said...

I read a book called No Ordinary Home by Carol Brazo that addressed Sabbath for the first time in a way that was meaningful to me. I began pondering about how (or if) I would implement it for my family, but I soon got sidetracked by other things. Your words encourage me to take that up again and make it a point to figure out how to do it. It amazes me how difficult it is to make myself really stop, be still, and reflect on who God is...but how much better and more refreshed would I be if I did?

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Sabbath said...

That one great quote. It was very fun to read. I you are going to read it you can learn a lot of things on it that you can be useful for you.

4:25 AM  

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