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Collected essays deepen Sabbath understanding

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Sunday, Sabbath, and the Weekend: Managing Time in a Global Culture 

Edited by Edward O’Flaherty and Rodney L. Petersen, with Timothy A. Norton

Sunday, Sabbath, and the Weekend
is a collection of essays that covers a wide range of issues related to Sabbath keeping. Rather than a general treatise on how individuals can keep a personal Sabbath, this book looks at the impact of Sabbath keeping on community and communities – from the local church to the whole world.

While the entire book is worth reading, it’s not necessary to read it from cover to cover. All the essays will deepen your understanding of Sabbath keeping, but they are not designed to build upon each other. Each essay stands alone.

Because there is a wide range of authors and areas of focus, different people will resonate with different articles. This diversity also makes it possible for the reader to learn and deepen his or her practice of Sabbath keeping sparked by disagreement with an author – for me, often more effective than simply reading things I agree with.

Personally, the two standout essays were Marva J. Dawn’s “Sabbath Keeping and Social Justice,” and Dennis T. Olson’s “Sacred Time: The Sabbath and Christian Worship.” Each article brought a sharper focus on the relationship between Sabbath keeping and aspects of the Christian life that are important to me.

“When we work for authentic renewal in society, we don’t jettison the past, but rather reclaim it,” writes Dawn in her esaay. “God is the only Creator we need to restore what God has already made for the sake of the renewal of society. This gives us hope.”

In Dennis T Olson’s article, I was encouraged to rethink the interconnection between taking a day for Sabbath rest and gathering together with the Christian community for corporate worship. The Sabbath is more than the Sunday morning church service, but worshipping together is a necessary and life-giving part of Sabbath keeping.

One of the most profound truths we learn when we practice Sabbath keeping is that God chooses to work with us, but ultimately God does not need to work with us. God is in control.

Overall the book is a solid addition to the canon of literature on Sabbath keeping, and will be appreciated by people with an interest in the subject. But for those new to the subject or looking for ideas on personal Sabbath keeping, I recommend Marva J. Dawn’s excellent book, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting as a better starting point.

Rachel Twigg Boyce is pastor of House Blend Ministries, an alternative expression of church through hospitality to the marginalized in Winnipeg’s downtown West End and West Broadway neighbourhoods.

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