Welcome I came across a devotional a few weeks ago that was great for contemplation and reflection. It was a devotional about the Sabbath. The fourth commandment seems to be an easy one for me to overlook. After all, who even says “Sabbath” anymore? So I took some time and looked back over the years of how I’ve used my seventh day and what needs to change. In addition to this discussion today, I have “Triple Threat Thursday” in my recipe section! It’s been awhile since I did a Two-for-Tuesday, so I thought we’d have a bonus day and I’ll share three recipes today! Thank you for joining me.
Food For Thought I don’t know what it is about Sunday afternoons, but I always seem to want a nap. We attend church in the morning, come home to have lunch, and then, as I’m changing out of my church clothes, I look over at the unmade bed and it looks so inviting. During the rest of the week, I make our bed in the morning and, unless I’m not feeling well, naps are sort of off-limits. I like naps, don’t get me wrong, but since I work from home, I think it starts a bad habit to use part of my day for napping, when I’m supposed to be writing and marketing and maintaining our home. But what is it about Sunday afternoons that just seems to beg for me to rest, relax, snooze, and basically be lazy? I don’t think it’s laziness…I think it’s by design from our creator.
God knows us, physically and mentally, better than we even know ourselves. God knows full well that after a week of work and errands for six days, we need that seventh day to rest and recover. Our bodies need rejuvenation. Our minds need some quiet and stillness. Our spirits need to reconnect with our Creator. We need all of this to prepare for the next six days to do it all again. So why is it so hard to participate in this holy act of the Sabbath?
When I was growing up, I vaguely remember this argument about whether the Sabbath was Sunday or Saturday. I seem to remember it having something to do with the “pagan” calendar and the seventh day somehow became Sunday, or some such confusion. Remember, I only said “vaguely.” When I was a little kid I thought Sabbath simply meant God’s day, so that would be Sunday, right? After all, that’s when I went to church and that’s when everyone I knew went to church. As I got older, I realized there were other churches and faiths that met on Saturdays. Not always, but often this was in recognition of the seventh day. When I looked up the word, I found many different definitions for the word Sabbath. Most commonly, it is defined as a day or season of rest, following time of work. There are usually references to which day is recognized by different faiths. According to our modern calendar, Christians usually observe the Sabbath on Sunday, Jews observe on Saturday, and Muslims observe on Friday, but the idea of a Sabbath day is common among many religions. In my learning, this Sabbath observation was in recognition of God choosing the seventh day to rest following His work of creation (Exodus 20:11.) In the Ten Commandments, we are instructed how to “remember” the Sabbath: do no work, including your family, your animals, your help, and your guests. For many generations, this meant preparing food and provisions ahead of time so you wouldn’t even have to cook on that seventh day! Even into recent history of American pioneer days, the seventh day was used for quiet contemplation and study of God’s word and even children were not allowed to play in their normal ways. I don’t think we could be farther from those original ideas of remembering the Sabbath!
I could offer many speculations to how even we “good” Christians have lost track of the Sabbath. I could talk about how work schedules pulled people in different directions throughout the week…not everyone’s day of rest falls on the same day. I could talk about corporate and retail greed that requires stores and businesses to be oven seven days a week. I could talk about how everyone’s schedules are so full during the week, that the seventh day is not used for rest, but for catching up on chores and errands. I could talk about how so many churches now offer services on several different days or evenings to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules. It’s probably a combination of all of these, along with the idea that of all the ten commandments, resting on the seventh day seems less important. So, I fall right in step with the actions of the rest of the world, always ignoring God’s commandment to have a day of rest. When I was running and training for races, I used Sunday mornings for my “long run” because the streets were quieter and less crowded. I often did prayer and meditation in my head on these runs, but trust me, there’s not much rest going on during a ten-mile run! Throughout my teaching career, I often would work in my classroom on Sunday afternoons to prepare for the upcoming week, because I couldn’t stand to not have everything in order going in on a Monday. I’ve used Sundays for grocery shopping, yard work, house cleaning, and the like. Even now, as my family has returned to regular church attendance and Sunday afternoons are much quieter than in the past, I haven’t been able to fully turn the day over to rest. I spend time preparing recipes and writing for the blog or other household chores. I certainly don’t want to be sinning intentionally. So how do I find a balance between resting and doing what needs to be done? I don’t have all the answers yet, but it is something I’m willing to make a conscious effort to improve.
I’m going to close with this excerpt from a writing from Ruth DeJager in “The Gift of the Sabbath”: “Today, some Christians observe the Sabbath with rules and regulations. Others treat Sunday as any other day. But there’s another way. We can accept the gift of the Sabbath as a day of celebration–a day set aside to spend with God, to remember his faithfulness, to trust him for our livelihood, to call the Sabbath a delight.”
Today’s Scripture Here are a few verses referencing the Sabbath. The verses preceding and following the excerpts here will offer context and further explanation, so I recommend reading them, as well.
Exodus 20:8-11 “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. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Isaiah 58:13-14 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.’ The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Matthew 12:9-12 “Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ He said to them, ‘If any of you had a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’
Mark 2:27-28 “The he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even on the Sabbath.”
Today’s Recipes As promised, a “triple threat Thursday!” As we are working on our grocery budget I am getting pretty good at stretching the week’s purchases, especially the meats. Our local supermarket had bone-in chicken breasts on sale last week. I bought two packages, totaling 8 large breasts. I cooked both packages in my first recipe, Smoky Orange Chicken, accompanied by my second recipe, Sweetly Spiced Sweet Potatoes. The three of us each had a chicken breast along with a helping of sweet potatoes and salad for our first dinner. My third recipe, Chicken Quesadillas with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Onions, used three more chicken breasts with the meat pulled from the bone. The remaining two chicken breasts are going have the meat pulled and used in a pasta dish for dinner tonight. Stretching this poultry purchase saved money and time during this busy week at our house! You can certainly use each recipe individually, if you prefer, rather than in sequence!
Smoky Orange Chicken (makes 8 chicken breasts, to serve a crowd, or for pulled chicken in recipes like chicken quesadillas)
- 8 large bone-in chicken breasts
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups orange marmalade
- 2 TBS soy sauce (reduced sodium)
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
Sweetly Spiced Sweet Potatoes (makes approximately six servings)
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar (I used the Splenda brown sugar blend)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sweet or smoky paprika
- 1/4 tsp salt
Chicken Quesadillas with Spinach, Mushrooms, Onions, and Habanero Jack Cheese (makes 4 dinner-size portions)
- 3 cooked chicken breasts, with meat pulled from the bone (I used leftover chicken from the Smoky Orange Chicken)
- 8 8-inch flour tortillas
- 1 TBS olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 oz fresh loose-leaf spinach
- 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup onions, thinly sliced
- 1 8-oz pkg Kraft Hot Habanero shredded cheese