Sabbath hope

Sabbath is one of Judaism’s great gifts to humanity. Walter Brueggemann wrote a little book called Sabbath as Resistance. The subtitle is Saying No to the Culture of Now. Hope is woven into the fabric of Sabbath. I believe hope is the essence of Sabbath.

Brueggemann ends his book with a story about Psalm 73:

I recently heard a Lutheran pastor describe a woman who had walked seven hundred miles as a refugee to escape a violent war and was finally able to cross a national boundary out of the war zone. She walked all that way and brought with her an eight-year-old girl, who walked beside her. For seven hundred miles the child held her hand tightly. When they reached the safety, the girl loosened her grip, and the woman looked at her hand. Ir was raw and bloody with an open wound, because the little girl had held on tightly in her fearfulness. It’s like that in verse 23.

Nevertheless I am continually with you; You hold my right hand.

This is no casual hand-holding. This is a life-or-death grip that does not let go.

“No-Sabbath” existence imagines getting through on our own, surrounded by commodities to accumulate and before which to bow down. But a commodity cannot hold one’s hand. Only late does the psalmist come to know otherwise. Only late may we also come to know. We may come to know, but likely not without Sabbath, a rest rooted in God’s own restfulness and extended to our neighbors who also must rest. We, with our hurts, fears, and exhaustion, are left restless until then.

From “Sabbath as Resistance: An Interview with Walter Brueggemann,” by John Pattison, Slow Church, February 2, 2015

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