Sabbath as Resistance

I recently read Walter Brueggemann’s book Sabbath as Resistance; Saying No to the Culture of Now. It was a stellar little book! It was a book I needed to read. I have a theology of Sabbath, I have some kind of belief that it’s important but to be honest, I’m not a great Sabbath keeper. This book said things I believe in poignant and impactful ways that reminded me that to follow the God who frees is to be free indeed. The world doesn’t revolve around my efforts and abilities and God gives me a day to remember that and to let it be a guiding reality to my entire life and ministry. 

I’d thought I would flip through and share a few of my favorite quotes. I would include a dozen more but check these out and then go buy the book! “The departure from that same system (the Egyptian system of control) in our time is not geographical. It is rather emotional, liturgical, and economic. It is not an idea but a practical act. Thus the Sabbath of the forth commandment is an act of trust in the subversive, exodus-causing God of the first commandment, an act of submission to the restful God of commandments one, two, and three. Sabbath is a practical divestment so that neighborly engagement, rather than production and consumption, defines our lives. It is for good reason that sabbath has long been for theologically serious Jews, the defining discipline. It is for good reason that Enlightenment-based autonomous Christians may find the Sabbath commandment the most urgent and the most difficult of all the commandments of Sinai.”

“Moses, in Deuteronomy, imagines that Sabbath is not only a festival day but also a new social reality that is carried back into days one through six. People who keep Sabbath live all seven days differently. So the task, according to Moses, is to “seven” our lives.”

The “other gods” are agents and occasions of anxiety. But we, by discipline, by resolve, by baptism, by Eucharist, and by passion, resist such seductions. In so doing we stand alongside the creator in whose image we are made. By the end of six days God had done all that was necessary for creation… so have we!”

“… Sabbath is not simply a pause. It is an occasion for reimagining all of social life away from coercion and competition to compassionate solidarity.”

“Since Sabbath is the quintessential worship act of neighborliness wherein the workers rest “as you” (Deut. 5:14), we may see in this context a contrast with a practice of worship that offers no Sabbath rest but only reflects a social restlessness and feeds social restlessness by giving it religious legitimacy. Worship that does not lead to neighborly compassion and justice cannot be faithful worship of YHWH. The offer is a phony Sabbath.

We have so many requirements that are as old as Moses. But here is only one requirement. It is Sabbath, work stoppage, an ordinacnce everyone can honor—gay or straight, women or man, Black or White, “American” or Hispanic—anybody can keep it and be gathered to the meeting of all God’s people. Sabbath deconstructs the notion of being “qualified” for membership.

“Sabbath is a school for our desires, an expose & critique of the false desires that focus on idolatry & greed that have immense power over us. When we do not pause for Sabbath, these false desires take power over us. But Sabbath is the chance for self-embrace or our true identity."