This is a guest post by a homeschool mom, curriculum writer, farmer’s wife, and chicken-lover (she even rents her chickens, y’all). I know you will be as blessed by it as I have by getting to know her and learning about her family’s habit of celebrating every Saturday for the Sabbath:
Why DO we celebrate Sabbath, and how in the world did that begin?
Well, it came about through homeschooling, really. We have five awesome children ages almost 10years — 16year, and they are very curious. (Love of learning was well-instilled in them, and all that jazz.) We use unit studies based on character traits we want to strengthen to structure our educational journey. Our literature, history, science, and Bible all come from Konos, a huge book of ideas, to help to direct our focus. About 6 or 7 years ago, we were doing “discipline” as our character trait. It was amazing. We had already learned so much, and the Bible portion focused on the Ten Commandments. We were on Commandment four: Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
I blinked suddenly, looked up, and confessed to the children: In my 34 years, I have never kept that commandment. Ever. I have 34 years of breaking the 4th commandment weekly. Going to church and getting dressed up is NOT restful, after all. And I didn’t think of the Sabbath at all… it was just what one did as a good little Christian girl.
As we do with most our studies, we break it down. What did the Lord mean by Sabbath? (The seventh day. Saturday. That hadn’t changed. Man made religion changed that from Saturday to Sunday, not the Lord. He meant the 7th day. We looked into how and why it changed. It isn’t a fun story, so I’ll skip it.)
We carried out STACKS of books on Jewish traditions that week. It was VERY interesting to see what Jesus did, as a Jew!
Holy. What does that mean? Set apart. What did He ask us to do to set it apart? To rest. Like Him. From the dawn of creation, the Lord gave us an example, on the very FIRST seventh day, He rested. Not because He was tired. He didn’t need to rest. He’s God. He was showing us what is good. And GOSH, y’all. It’s GOOOOOOD! What else does He say about the Sabbath? He blessed and withheld blessings from entire nations because they did not recognize His Sabbath… he mentions His Sabbath a LOT in the Bible. It’s a big deal to Him. He did it, we should too. Jesus did it, we should too. He has good ideas, y’all!
We thought about observing Sabbath on a Sunday – but decided to try it in a more traditional Jewish way, the way Jesus would have done it. We want to be like Him. We went to the fabric store and bought 6 pieces of fabric, one representing each day of creation. We made a table cloth from them. It’s lovely. With the excess fabric, we made cloth napkins. We got candlesticks and made challah bread, and I completely stressed out about having it all done by sundown. It was NOT restful on the first week! I ruined the Sabbath air with my human need to “get it right.” I was exhausted and resentful, and frustrated.
Would I have been a good Jew, or a bad one? Happily, my salvation is not tied up in the laws I keep. Gosh, isn’t that good news!
The next week, Brad helped me and we did the best we could. I eventually decided maybe the Challah bread could be made with a mixer. That helped a LOT!
We decided our two candles represented Physical Life (the Creation) and Eternal Life (Jesus’ Death and Resurrection). Each week we still say what each candle means as we light them. This begins the Sabbath. We all sigh and smile at one another. We are more dressed up at this point than we typically dress for our church. I usually wear a dress or skirt, and the boys all have collared shirts on. We look nice, we feel good. The preparation for Sabbath is just as important as the 24 hours of rest. It’s amazing.
One of us reads the Creation story, day 6 and 7, and then the Last Supper before Jesus went to the cross. Before THAT, we ask for forgiveness. We confess our sins and failings to one another. In the beginning, little three year old Liesel would pipe up first every week with her cute little voice with no R’s or L’s…
“I’m sorry I called you a doo-doo head, Jake.”
“I forgive you, Liesel.”
…And then an outpouring of forgiveness and confession floods forth from everyone to everyone. Mom to Dad, Dad to son, brother to sister. It’s an amazing time of renewal and binding the family together. We pray… sometimes separately, sometimes together, sometimes one after another. There is no formula. Brad and I both have a lot of tendency toward legalism, so it’s very important to us that we keep the Sabbath truly holy – meaning, not OUR LAW, but from God’s example. Full of grace, and second chances, and easy yokes. Which means it’s ever evolving.
So, here are our rules, that we usually guide ourselves by on each Sabbath that we can possibly attain it:
We will have a special meal together around 8ish on Friday night. It often includes a dessert and wine for Brad and me. We will have a premade breakfast casserole or some sort of breakfast that does not require preparation on Sabbath morning. I pop that in the oven to reheat before I head out to do the farm chores Saturday morning.
1) No un-enjoyable tasks. No cleaning, or organizing, or drudgery of any kind. No laundry. Nothing mundane. No “have-to’s”
2) We do it together. No one is going to break off from the family day, unless we already have a work type thing that takes some of us away already. If on the rare occasion just one person is gone, there is a real sadness and grief in the air. We are not whole, and we pray for them a LOT. We are so grateful for our full 7 person family
3) There are no rules. (This is the most important rule).
So, what DO we do? We eat a lot. We sleep in, mom (me) does the farm animal chores in a slow, lovely manner, coffee in tow, so all the children can truly sleep until whenever. We walk in the woods, read the Bible together, play hymns and choruses on the piano, banjo, ukulele, etc. We watch the bees fly to the hive. We enjoy the chickens and feed the goats. We build fires. Mostly, we just enjoy knowing that no demands will be put on us today. We serve one another out of sheer glee, and seek each other out for cuddly naps. I had three naps Saturday, can you tell?
The dishes get rinsed Friday evening, and stacked in the sink. The floor gets crumbly, and the counters get a little sticky. Socks are often wherever, and blankets are crumpled heaps on the couches from the copious number of naps that get taken. If you’ve visited us on a Saturday, everything sort of feels everywhere. And that’s OK.
It’s like Christmas morning… and who would deprive anyone of that?
We dance, we jog, we read other stuff too, not just the Bible. We even some times plant seeds, or work on a vehicle… but we check in our heart the motivation. Are we blessing the Lord in this, is He our focus? Are we in a hurry? Are we doing this in a set apart manner? We breathe. We hum. We stare into the distance, avoid most phone calls and screens (mostly) and seek out the creation of our Lord. We breathe in the wonder of the flowers and leaves, and discover yet another new plant, lizard, or insect we hadn’t seen before on the property.
We ignore a lot of stuff. The family businesses (Rent The Chicken and Flip Flop Spanish) must wait. Budgets and shopping of any kind is off the table. The Sabbath mentality (changing our heart, speech, and thoughts to focus on the Lord) then bleeds into the rest of the week.
When we can’t celebrate the Sabbath, and we are forced to miss it – Rent The Chicken booths, and Flip Flop Spanish homeschool stuff OFTEN occur on Saturdays – we MISS it. We try to take it another day that week, but it’s not the same flavor. We’re so grateful for the hours the Lord blesses us. It’s like Christmas every single week. Not quite the same feeling you get from singing and visiting in church, which is something we also do a few times each month (we live far out in the country).
As our fourteen year old son said, “The week gives you some dirt each day. And you fill up your wheelbarrow with the daily dirt, and take it into the next day. More dirt gets piled on. The pile gets higher, and you get tired of wheeling it around. Then Friday night happens, and you get to DUMP YOUR LOAD at Sabbath Meal! Your wheelbarrow is empty ALL day on Sabbath, and you’re ready again for the next week.”
I invite you to try observing the fourth commandment with us. I know you’ll be blessed.
And no… if you are wondering, this isn’t a sponsored post. I asked her to write it so I CAN STEAL HER IDEAS FOR SABBATH DAY. I can’t wait to do this once we get moved. I don’t think the realtors or home buyers would like it if we had random socks and dirty dishes everywhere for our weekend showings… although, by now, I’m tempted to just give up and leave a mess anyway.
So what do you do if you celebrate the Sabbath at home on Saturday? I’d love to hear it. Comment below!