One of the great tragedies on the present age is that too many people in the world struggle to survive. Hundreds of millions are hungry,(1) cold, and poorly housed, and more than 25 million people live in refugee camps. Forced to flee their countries because of war and famine, refugees are a constant reminder to be grateful for the simple gifts of food and home. They also prompt us to think about the fragility of life as we know it. Often in the blink of an eye families must leave their homes and countries to seek safety among people and in a place that is temporary, crowded and frightening, especially for children.
Situations like this make it impossible for millions to rest, reflect, pray and honor the Sabbath. The command of God to keep Holy the Sabbath feels like a luxury to the poor and refugees, and robs them of the freedom to experience Sabbath's benefits. Families resting together without working have the opportunity to listen more intently to one another and God, and to celebrate who they are becoming as individuals and people of faith. Sabbath also refreshes our imaginations and makes us more productive when we do work.
God's wisdom and desire for us is to rest every week and pray, and this command is so important that God holds up the poorest of the poor, the anawim, as examples for us.(Neh 13) Even when the Jews were dragged into exile, a few, the poor, despite being threatened that their children would go hungry, honored God and kept the Sabbath. So should we.
Today, take a twenty minute Sabbath. Do nothing.
What is most difficult for you to put aside in order to celebrate Sabbath with your family?