I picked through the cheese drawer in the fridge, selecting only our favorites and setting my selections one-by-one on the counter. Swinging the fridge door shut with my foot, I reached across the kitchen to retrieve the butcher block cutting board from its hiding place and set it on the table next to the wine glasses waiting to be filled. With just a few more steps and a quick arms-filled, boxes-tucked-under-my-chin shuffle across the kitchen, I had everything I needed. I took a deep breath and took it all in. Sabbath was here. And we were ready.
When Austin and I were first married, we ran into a routine frustration. Mondays came hard in the Gannett household, with a surplus of grad school classes and two jobs that demanded more of our time and energy than we could spare. But it wasn’t just Monday that seemed to wear us thin. The angst of Monday mornings and the stress of a heavy weekly schedule had a tendency of spilling over into the weekends.
At first, I would start to feel the restlessness of Monday on Sunday afternoons. As the sun was going down and the evening became more real, I would notice the way the weekend was coming to an end, and the way Monday was just a few hours away. This realization always made me weary, and unsettled me for the remaining hours of weekend rest. Soon, the restlessness worked its way into Sunday mornings, and sometimes even Saturday afternoons. Before I knew it, our entire weekend - our weekly time of rest and refreshment - was consumed by the reality of work ahead. Our rest was sapped in anticipation, leaving us restless and unable to rest.
So we decided to do something about. We decided to schedule something on Sunday evenings that we could look forward to - something that would stretch out the weekend with joyful anticipation and rightly allocate the weight of work to Monday mornings. Scheduling something we thoroughly enjoyed on Sunday evenings was our way of deliberately choosing rest in the midst of a busy season of life. It was our way of telling work that it could wait until Monday, and inviting Sunday to be the sabbath we intended it to be.
In our first months of marriage, the best thing we could fathom was a charcuterie board. Six years later, we still can’t think of anything more enjoyable.
And so it has become our Sunday rhythm. As the weekend draws to a close, we pull out our cutting board and uncork a bottle of wine. We get out the little cheeses we picked out from the fancy part of the groceries store, a little bit of leftover fruit, some homemade bread, some simple crackers, and arrange it as a shared plate. It’s a tradition that reminds us each week that God is good and has set good things before us. It serves as a liturgy to teach us that while He calls us to the goodness of work ahead, that He has also called us to the goodness of rest and Sabbath.
I never knew a cheese board could teach me so much about rest and Sabbath, but it has. God has used this weekly tradition to shape in me a deeper understanding of why He has called His people to rest, and commanded His people to Sabbath.
While most of us acknowledge (at least in some form) God’s command and invitation to practice sabbath, we often find it complicated. Sabbaths are often a mix of activity and ceasing from activity, doing and refraining from doing, going and staying home. They are often Sundays, but they don’t have to be Sundays. Over the years, we have honed our understanding - both theologically and practically - of what sabbath is and what it is for.
This study is an intense look at what the Bible teaches about Sabbath and about rest (noting that they're not always interchangeable). We'll be taking a deep dive into the Hebrew context for God's Sabbath commands and studying how Jesus interprets these commands in light of the coming of His Kingdom. We'll talk about our need to obey God's commands and also look at the grace of the Gospel that keeps us from legalism and rigidity. I'll also be sharing a few of the things Austin and I have learned over the years - practical tips and weekly routines that ready us to receive God's gift of Sabbath - in the bonus section of this study!
Here's what you need to know
This study is a topical study. We'll be selecting passages on our topic (or theme) of Sabbath and rest and studying them in-depth. Unlike a regular exegetical study where we move through a passage verse-by-verse, we will trace the theme throughout the entire Bible, taking each topical passage verse-by-verse (or, exegetically).
Here's what you need to do first
Grab your Bible. We'll be using it everyday, all the time, like it's our job. Then, grab a notebook and a pen. You'll want to jot down your answers to the questions, reflections, and maybe even some prayers. It's a great way to track what you're learning so that you can always come back to it.