Mental Health Ministries

Sabbath Time

Sabbath TimeSeveral years ago my husband, Stan, and I were on one of those frantic tours in Israel where you have to be at the bus or the dining room at an exact time. After cleaning up in our room from a day of touring, we went to the hallway to take an elevator to the dining room.

Not knowing the difference, we took the first available elevator. We were the only ones in the elevator when suddenly it came to an abrupt stop between floors. We just sat there waiting for it to start. As we were about to push the emergency button for help, the elevator started up again. But a short time later the same thing happened. It took us about ten minutes to go down eight floors!

When we got to the bottom, we found that we had taken the "shabbot" elevator since one is not supposed to use mechanical devices on the Jewish Sabbath. The hotel operated the shabbot elevator for handicapped persons. The stops reminded one that the Sabbath was a sacred time and space was provided for prayer.

We may have been late to dinner. But the greater realization was of how we have eroded Sabbath time. Many of us can remember when stores or businesses were closed on Sundays, especially in small towns. But with our worship of the almighty dollar, Sunday has become like any other day. When my daughter was applying for a fast-food job in high school, eyebrows were raised when she said she could not work Sunday mornings because of church.

We have few structured opportunities to intentionally practice Sabbath time. Many of those who spend an hour in worship once a week, see that as fulfilling Sabbath time. But it is not enough. We are paying the price for ignoring our personal spiritual rhythms of Sabbath time in our relationship with work, with our families and in time spent with the Divine.

Be aware of the unexpected ways, like elevators stopping mid-floor, that may be calling you to reclaim Sabbath time in your life.