I am LOVING your lists! With all the great imagination you're showing, it's going to be SO hard to choose the top ten. Thanks to everybody who's participating. You can keep submitting lists of five (5) as often as you want until June 1. (Sorry for the confusion there) so keep 'em coming!
Thanks also for your comments about keeping the Sabbath holy. They showed me that we definitely have a lot to talk about! First, though, I want to compliment you on how you've taken the "mouth commandments" to heart. TALIA said she felt bad for maybe hurting a waiter's feelings at a restaurant by talking about him -- she's even concerned for a total stranger. Love that about you, Talia. She also said she and her friends were kind of getting into gossip and then started doing a fun game thing instead. Total progress! Someone else (I'm sorry -- I lost that one) said she HAD gossiped, and then realized it and felt horrible -- but that in itself shows growth. Just being aware that what you're doing isn't a God-thing is half the battle won. Once you have your master list of other things to talk about (after the contest), you're going to get better and better at keeping your tongue wagging about good, fun stuff.
Now, back to the Sabbath. Here's what you've said about that day we're supposed to keep holy and why it's hard:
* SARAH: Not many people really do it. It's usually filled up with baseball games, horse-back-riding, or a trip to the pool. That makes it harder to do yourself.
* LEXI: There's always something she wants to do -- like listen to music or watch TV or go outside. Honestly, she says, "I don't really know HOW to keep it holy." CLARA agrees; she wants to play outside and help her dad in the garden.
* ORH: Paying attention through the sermon and not having idols and day dreaming during it. She also says when they sing songs, she feels all awkward and like she's not really singing for God.
* TALIA: is not even sure she knows what it MEANS to keep it holy.
There were a few exceptions. of course. TIGERLILY says it's not that hard for her -- which we'd all like to hear more about! And CALLIE explains that it isn't even a big deal to her because every day we live should be a holy day (and, no, Callie, that doesn't sound preachy) . But I think TALIA comes closest when she says we don't exactly get what 'keeping it holy means.' So let's turn -- of COURSE -- to Jesus for an answer.
In Matthew 12, we get the story about Jesus strolling with his disciples through a field of ripe grain one Sabbath day. Maybe for us that would be like walking through the grocery store after church. I don't know about your neighborhood, but in mine, the Publix is more crowded during that time than any other! (Women in heels with screaming children who need a nap). They got hungry, Jesus' friends did, so they were pulling off the heads of grain and munching on them. Who doesn't need a snack after a long sermon, right? Some Pharisees (religious rule-keepers) said to Jesus, "What's with your disciples breaking the Sabbath rules!" Now, back then, those same Commandment Police had taken that simple commandment to "Keep holy the Sabbath day" and gotten really nitpicky with it. You couldn't walk further than a certain distance, or cook a meal, or carry anything. It was basically out of control. Besides that, they were just looking for a reason to make Jesus look bad because he was always making THEM look bad, because they WERE bad! Funny, huh, because they were giving him yet another reason to make them look as bad as they were! He said to them, (vs 3) "Really? Didn't you ever read what David and his companions did when they were hungry, how they entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat? And did you ever read in God's law that priests carrying out their temple duties break Sabbath rules all the time and it's not held against them?" By that time they were feeling pretty stupid because of course all of that stuff was in the Scriptures they were supposed to be experts on. But Jesus didn't stop there. He said:
"There is far more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what this Scripture meant -- 'I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual' -- you wouldn't be nitpicking like this. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath; he's in charge."
And then he really put it to them and healed a man with a crippled hand -- right after they asked if it was "legal" to heal on the Sabbath. Du-uh! Are hospitals closed on Sundays?
We can sit back and scoff (don't you love that word?) at the Pharisees for being so lame, but seriously, we still struggle with what's okay on the Sabbath and what isn't. We tend to think 'keeping it holy' means we have to first go to church and then spend the rest of the day being quiet and reading the Bible and thinking holy thoughts. But according to what we just saw in the Jesus story, that isn't so at all! All that does is make us feel guilty about not being 'holy' -- when we have the wrong definition in the first place!
What Jesus was doing, and what we need to do, is to look back at the Genesis story, where God created the world. He worked at it for six days, Genesis 1 tells us, and then in Genesis 2, "On the seventh day he rested from all his work. God blessed the seventhy day. He made it a Holy Day, because on that day he rested from his work, all the creating God had done."
So it's not about sitting around trying to be all perfect and spiritual. It's about rest. About putting aside all the stuff you worry about and work at the other six days and doing things that refresh you and bring you joy and allow God to take pleasure in you. So, no, it's not the day for catching up on your homework or chores. But if baseball games and a trip to the pool renew you for the week to come, that's holy. If playing outside, helping your dad in the garden, even reorganizing your room give you new energy, that's holy, too. Playng a game of football in the backyard would not be holy for me, but reading a book on the sidelines with a glass of lemonade would be, while for other people that would be more like torture. Getting knocked down fifteen times before they get a touchdown might be holiness for them.
I think the holiness comes in when you keep the Sabbath on purpose -- what we call intentionally. Yeah, it should start with worship, probably in a place where other worshippers gather. That isn't always a pleasant experience if the sermon is boring or you're uncomfortable singing, but you'll have more choices about the church you attend when you get older. For now, try to find a way to focus on God, even if you get lost during the sermon. Once worship is over, keeping the Sabbath then means having a plan for what you'll do to rest and refresh and remember that the life God has given you is good. Again your family may decide the afternoon activities, but if you have choices, think ahead about how you can make the day special somehow. If you want to listen to music, that's holy. If you've saved a movie to watch, God'll watch with you. Make it something to look forward to, even if it's small. For me, sometimes it's as simple as the one day a week I'll each chocolate, or as complex as a picnic by the lake with potato salad and the pups.
Just vegging and being bored doesn't cut it. So you might want to start a list, maybe in your journal, of things you could do on the Sabbath to make it a holy day for you. It might help to remember that the word "holiday" means 'holy day' -- and what do you do on holidays? Eat, celebrate, laugh, enjoy people. As you make your list, think of every Sunday as a day of celebration, even if you don't break out the turkey or the Easter eggs. Callie is right that every day should technically be holy, in that it belongs to God. But God understands that during the week we have to work at that. On the Sabbath, we sit back and let God work in us while we're enjoying his world and his people. And the planning can be as much fun as the day itself!
So much fun, in fact, that I would love for you to post some ideas on how the Sabbath can be "holy" -- resting, refreshng, renewing and fun -- for YOU. I bet we'll get as many different ideas as we have people, and ALL of them will be "right." Bring them on -- let's celebrate God!