Clergy Corner: Celebrate the Sabbath!

File Photo of Susan Beckett
Susan Beckett, Dwelling Place Church.

■ Susan Beckett / Contributed

People can sure get crazy at sporting events, can’t they? Screaming and yelling, jumping up and down, waving giant foam fingers. Or how about entire sections in the stadium doing the wave! What about those super fans – the guys that paint their faces (and sometimes their whole bodies) in the colors of their favorite teams and then go absolutely hog wild yelling at them for the entire game?
Just for a minute though, let’s imagine an entire sports stadium, filled with devoted fans, sitting in total silence as two football teams go head to head. No one yelling, “Goooo team!” No one standing up, arms waving wildly in the air, screaming at the referee over a bad call, no one shouting or waving pompoms. Just silence.
But hang on loyal sports fans – the above-mentioned scenario will never ever happen – not in a thousand years. The boisterous and passionate behavior is actually part of the experience of attending a football game. People love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Being a church gal though, I do find it interesting that oftentimes any show of excitement or enthusiasm in a church setting can bring about swift criticism. People often have a problem with what they call “emotional displays” by believers. Guess we’re supposed to leave our emotions curbside and calm down!
But is subdued praise, in or out of a church setting, something that’s biblical? The answer to that would be a big NO. Can you imagine telling the lame man who was healed at the temple gate, “No walking and leaping and praising God here. Tone it down, will ya?”
Or how about the parents of the girl who was raised from the dead in Luke 8. You don’t think they were excited beyond words? Think they shouted and jumped around just a bit? And then there’s the father of the prodigal son. He was so elated about having his son come home that he threw him a big ol’ party, complete with music and dancing!
Now — just a theory of mine to give you something extra to think about. In Genesis 2:2, the Bible tells us that the Lord “rested” on the seventh day. I have always had my personal doubts about that. God, resting? Does that seem just a little odd to anyone else out there?
So here’s something to speculate. It seems that the word “rest” in Hebrew is Shabbat. One of its meanings is “to celebrate.” This is the exact word we find in Leviticus 23:32 where we are told to “celebrate your Sabbath.” So my theory is that when the Lord finished creating the earth, He didn’t take a nap, or even a time out — He celebrated. I think He did the same thing we’re supposed to do on the Sabbath, which is celebrate.
So what exactly does that look like? Probably a lot like verses from Psalms that I’ve put together here: “Sing unto the Lord a new song, and His praise in the congregation of saints. Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet, praise Him with timbrel and dance: praise Him with stringed instruments and organs. Clap your hands, all ye people and shout unto God with a voice of triumph; let everything that hath breath praise the Lord, praise ye the Lord, and make His praise glorious!”
I absolutely love what C.S. Lewis had to say about celebrating God: “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”

So party on and celebrate your Sabbath!

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