“The Sabbath, along with the other practices [Michael Fishbane] exposits, concerns the maintenance of a distinct faith identity in the midst of a culture that is inhospitable to all distinct identities in its impatient reduction of all human life to the requirements of the market. . . . [He argues that] Sabbath is a sphere of inaction.” Walter Brueggemann
”One enters the sphere of inaction through divestment, and this release affects all the elements of the workaday sphere. Business activity and exchange of money are forbidden, and one is urged not just to desist from commerce but to develop more interior spheres of settling the mind from this type of agitation. . . . Slowly, under these multiple conditions, a sense of inaction takes over, and the day does not merely mark the stoppage of work or celebrate the completion of creation, but enforces the value that the earth as a gift of divine creativity, given to humankind in sacred trust. On the Sabbath, the practical benefits of technology are laid aside, and one tries to stand in the cycle of natural time, without manipulation or interference. To the degree possible, one must attempt to bring the qualities of inaction and rest into the heart and mind. . . . The Sabbath is thus a period of sacred stasis, a duration of sanctity through the cultivation of inaction in body and spirit. . . . The heartbeat of repose may thus suffuse the mind and limbs of one’s being, and generate an inner balance poised on quietude and a settled spirit.” Michael Fishbane
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.”
Exodus 20:8-10b NIV
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Imagine joining your Jewish friends for several months as they practice “the heartbeat of repose” the way Fishbane describes it. How would that feel?
- Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could experience more “quietude and a settled spirit” in our lives? . . . our homes? . . . our churches?
- Brueggemann points out the profound external, societal implications for God’s people. Sabbath is a major way we resist our inhospitable culture. Are you resisting a culture that wants to shape you?
Abba, may we regularly enter into inaction of body and soul–into quietude and a settled spirit.
For more: Sabbath As Resistance by Walter Brueggemann
Brueggemann, Walter. Sabbath As Resistance: Saying NO to the CULTURE OF NOW. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2014.
Fishbane, Michael. Sacred Attunement: A Jewish Theology. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2008.