I’ve been putting off writing my review of Dan Allender’s Sabbath primarily because I’m still trying to piece together in my mind all that I’ve read. What is that struck me the most? Did Allender answer my questions about the often unheeded fourth commandment? Did he challenge my previously held ideas about a simple day off? (And how do I write this in about 300 words?)
Allender at first addresses the American mindset of relentless work, concurring with Lewis Mumford who asserted that “the clock, not the steam engine, is the key machine of the modern industrial age” (page 52). But the Sabbath as merely a day off from the weekly grind minimizes all that God intended it to be.
All space is holy; yet not all space has been sanctified. But time—a single day, the Sabbath—is to be sanctified as holy. —page 3
Allender explains that the Sabbath is more than rest from work, and it is more than religious practices. It isn’t necessarily reading the Bible and praying all day, although it could be.
The Sabbath is God’s invitation to have our senses awakened to his beauty, made manifest in his creation, in play, in food, and in our relationships (at least, what is possible). It is not a disregard for the worry and concerns of the other six days of the week, but it is a living for the future. It is not a retreat from reality, but an embrace of true reality. The Sabbath is an opportunity for redemption.
The Sabbath, Allender writes, is not merely a 24-hour interruption in our week; no, it “redefines the nature of time and how we are to live it” (page 49). And “as we remember Eden in the Sabbath celebration, we also imagine and anticipate the renewed and redeemed garden that is to come” (page 56).
At the end of each week, we are invited to live redemptively, not just looking toward but actually living in a time and place when injustice (in the world and in our own relationships) will be no more. But this is no escape. For when we begin breathing in the air of heaven (where God’s will is done), we will exhale into a world marred by sin, bringing Sabbath rest into the rest of the week.
I definitely recommend Allender’s Sabbath. In future posts I’ll write more about my reactions and how in my home we will begin “keeping the Sabbath holy.”