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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Ask the Matriarch - Intentional Sabbath Taking Edition

Well, for the second week in a row, we have no questions in the Ask the Matriarch queue.

So, before you read any further...please think of a ministry question that has been nagging at you, and send it to us at

Now that you've sent us a question, here's a two-part question on intentional sabbath-taking:

Do you consistently observe a non-workday/Sabbath for yourself?
How do you experience refreshment, renewal, and/or communion with God on your Sabbath day?

Muthah+ was the first to respond:
I think I tried to take a non-workday Sabbath for myself. I would work on Mondays and take Fridays off. For extroverts like me, I am energized by Sunday and want to start my week with the energy being with the assembled Body of Christ on Sunday. I hit Monday running. For folks who are enervated by Sunday, they need to regroup and Sabbath on Mon. However, all too often Friday ended up having a wedding rehersal or something that took me back to church or office on my sabbath.
It was when I was working part-time that I really understood how insidious the ministry can be and I began to really watch the amount of time I was giving to the parish. I found that if I over-gave to my parish the parish did not understand my realtionship with the parish and I didn't comprehend theirs. I realized that I was trying to be indespensible to them rather than providing the proper model for them to do the ministry that they needed to do. I was crippling myself with over work and crippling them by taking away what they should have been doing for themselves. I began to be resentful and so did they.
I need time to read and spend time with Scripture. It is the quiet time of study that I can find that connection with God that some might call prayer, some might just call "idle thinking'. But I know it is time for God. Is there always a connection with God at this time? No. I just make myself available. Sometimes God is there and sometimes God isn't but it doesn't take anything away from it being Sabbath time. I just need to offer it.
I am loving retirement because if I take the time and offer it, it is so rewarding. I am not becoming a contemplative--I am just learning how to rest in God.

Jennifer, who blogs at An Orientation of Heart adds some very common-sense practices to give boundaries to her Sabbath-keeping:

I try very hard to consistently observe Sabbath on Mondays, whenever possible.
I do not check voicemail or my church e-mail account.
I do not schedule meetings for Mondays nor do I attend Monday meetings if I'm not the scheduler.
I walk at our local arboretum, read for pleasure, knit and cook simple meals on Mondays.
The congregation I serve is most respectful of this.
I experience much, much refreshment from this practice.
Slowing down to hear God's voice in nature,reading without a sermon in mind and just being quiet have been powerfully spiritual for me.
It's taken me decades to get to this point, recongizing that I did not always have the freedom to take a true sabbath, but it's been worth the wait!

And from Earthchik, blogging at Earthchicknits
I have always taken Fridays off and I guard that day jealously as much as possible, while realizing that sometimes having work responsibilities that day is simply an unavoidable fact of the kind of job this is. I do a pretty good job of not taking on any kind of public ministry work that day, but the fact is that I often do the more behind-the-scenes kind (emails, work-related reading, etc.). But as much as possible, I relax, read, knit, sew, putz around the house, and do the occasional errand. My husband and I are co-pastors and we share that day off, so it's nice to have both some solitary time on that day and some time shared with each other.

While on vacation last month, my husband and I decided to make a commitment to making that day off more of a true Sabbath, and as part of that commitment we've decided to take a 24-hour break each week (sun-down the night before our day off to sun-down the night of our day off) from all screens - TV, computer, iPhone. The truth is, I fritter away a lot of my downtime online, so this is, I hope, going to be a kind of radical liberation for me. I'm nervous but excited!

And you take Mondays or Fridays or another day as your Sabbath?

How do observe your day of rest and time with God?

What do you do or refrain from doing?

Use the Post a Comment function to share your insights and struggles...

And please, send us a question or two at!

May you live in God's amazing grace+


  1. I take Saturday as my day off.
    Yes it's a stupid day - yes it gets broken into with weddings & church fetes & last minute prep for Sunday.

    But it signals to my daughter that I want to be available to spend time with her when she's home from school.
    And in a ministry where she might sometimes feel to come second to lots of other people, that's really important.

    Of course I try to build in other time off too & I make sure I get all my holiday & further training entitlement - to keep me fresh & joyful!

  2. I am the queen of sabbath taking (or I am lazy, or I am lucky...) Monday is my day off. I usually do house stuff that day, read, but it is time to tend to my home. Friday mornings I have an artist date, which is pottery from 10-1. I usually then work from home, doing emails, administrivia, sometimes visiting. Saturdays usually half off, and half on, depending on what is coming up for Sunday, and what is happening on Saturday. I feel like it is my on-call day. It's integral for me to have balance, and although ministry can be 24-7, I want to have two full days off a week, when I can. The other days might be 12 hour days, but the pay off is worth it.

  3. oh! and by the way, tomorrow I celebrate my 10 years of ordination!!!

  4. Happy ordination-versary, revkjarla!

    I have always been very protective of taking Mondays off (I am wiped out by Sunday and need that day to rest). I do stuff around the house - cleaning, errands, etc. - so it's not exactly 'sabbath,' but it is time away from work. No emails. No phone calls. Nada. Every once in awhile I needed to do a funeral on Monday when I was a solo pastor, in which case I took off another day of the week.

    I try not to work more than 2 Saturdays a month, since that is the only day I have off with my husband. This means I work to get the sermon done on Friday except in rare circumstances.

    And I always take all my vacation.

  5. I've been thinking a lot about this, so I just blogged about it...

  6. Balance is such an important area for me. If I am on a treadmill, with no "off" switch, I am not fulfilling who I am called to be.

    Even though Sundays tend to wipe me out, I do work Mondays. Start to do some sermon prep etc, do some reading etc.

    Friday and Saturday combo work well for me. Once a month I leave on Thursday afternoon and head to a larger city 100 miles away. I have a free place to stay and it is a much needed geographical and spiritual break for me. I return Sat, late afternoon or early evening. It is close enough that if someone dies, I can leave and be present with the family.

    I have our office admin add "Purple's Sabbath" to the newsletter calendar and it appears weekly in the bulletin. For me, it is important to model Sabbath enjoying for the congregation.

    My Sabbath is a time of rest and reflection, no church stuff, a movie, etc.

  7. My sabbath is a Friday, I try to do some fun things, and will almost always either go walking or swimming. Mostly this is respected, now and then work creeps in, but if it does I make no apolgies for re-claiming the time elsewhere!

  8. I'm in CPE for the next year and have not been successful in finding a good and regular day off. So I decided to write it in as one of my learning goals.

    And so it goes.

  9. For me, Sabbath takes vigilence every day of the week.

    Sunday is a full day, natch. Monday is a half day, Tue, Wed, Thurs are full days. Fri and Sat are Sabbath and writing days- they switch off depending on what's going on. If I have to work both Fri and Sat for reasons beyond my control, I take Weds off. It helps to write "sabbath" on my calendar on the day I'm taking off, then I dont schedule anything by accident, which is what used to happen.

    I take all my vacay and continuing ed time.

    Good topic, thanks.


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