Saturday, August 02, 2008

Saturday Question: When does your "Lord's Day" begin?

In her book Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline, Lauren Winner calls the Sabbath "a basic unit of Christian time, a day the Church, too, tries to devote to reverence of God and rest from toil" (p. 3). In her reflections on her Jewish roots, she struggles to bring some of the Hebrew Bible's God-given rhythms into her Christian life.

Just last week I was speaking with a friend whose current writing project is something on "The Lord's Day", because the subject seems to have slipped from view of many Christians.

As soon as the Sabbath/Lord's Day connection is forged, however, it often proves contentious: witness the 245 (count 'em!) comments on Tim Challies' 2006 review of Call The Sabbath A Delight by Walter Chantry!

My own sense is that of longing for "my" Lord's Day to mean more because, as everything else in the Christian life, it is a response of love and devotion to the one who not only gave me life, but gave it to me again by giving up his own. For me, the "Lord's Day" is a Sunday ... so my question is: when does "Sunday" begin?

Of course, "Sabbath" observance begins on Friday evening. So does, or should, "Sunday" celebration begin on Saturday evening? I remember a family from my childhood who had been missionaries in Sudan who followed this practice. Even as a kid I can recall being both puzzled by and attracted to such a rhythm to life (though I didn't call it that then, of course!).

Do the cadences of Genesis 1 contribute here? "There was evening, and there was morning...". How about the "rhythm" of Psalms 3, 4, and 5: "I lay down and slept; I woke again for the Lord sustained me" (3:5); "In peace I both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety" (4:8); "O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch" (5:3).

I would like my preparation for celebrating the Lord's Day to have an evening/morning pattern ... and it's only hours away.

Some further resources: