sabbath manifesto: why didn’t adventists think of it first?

I’m a third generation Sabbath keeper. That means my fondest memories and my weirdest rituals took root sometime between the sunsets of my Fridays and Saturdays. Like coal-roasted dried fish and konji.

My grandma’s woodstove stayed cold during the Sabbath hours. All the cooking was done Friday afternoon. And she didn’t have a refrigerator. Friday afternoon my grandfather would arrive with fresh fish and lemons and my grandma had a special way of cooking that preserved her food during the Sabbath hours even on the hottest summer day. She would smear the fish with her special spices before frying it and toss the rice in a hot oil seasoned with green chillies curry leaves and lemon juice. It was a special Sabbath meal that tasted best at room temperature. And then as the Sabbath ended at sundown, she’d light her woodstove and put a pot of rice and lentil konji and the whole house would smell wonderful. Just as the rice was almost cooked she’d throw in some fresh coconut over the konji and a piece of salted dried fish between the coals of the stove. My mouth waters just thinking of it.

Other memories of the Sabbath are of my grandpa singing off key by his open window, having a special hot bath indoors–This was a lot of work in a house with no plumbing. Pots of water had to be carried from the well to the house, extra wood purchased to boil the water, etc. Later we lived on a campus where houses had plumbing, but where water was still scarce. Friday evenings, though,every home got extra water so we could begin the Sabbath with a nice hot bath. When the church bell rang in the Sabbath, across campus, you’d see families walking together towards the church–every single head wet, a proclamation of the Sabbath Day.

Sabbath naps were also a big deal. What a treat to be unburdened by work and responsibility!

I could go on and on about how special the Sabbath is to me–and I have! But what I really wanted to talk about is that since those early days of wonderful memories and rituals, I’ve given in to gadgets that have somewhat skewed my Sabbath. While I still refrain from the lure of the secular and the exhaustion of work, I seem to be unnecessarily occupied and busy on the Sabbath doing Sabbath-sanctioned things–When I’m not in church, I’m on my Macbook Air (yeah, I have one!!) on the Sabbath Day. Granted, everything I do is religious and kosher–whether it’s reading, researching or writing. But, like this guy says “all the online connecting that people do is actually disconnecting them from who and what’s important.”

When my son, Jez, introduced me to The Sabbath Manifesto this week, I realized just how much I’ve backslidden in my zeal to keep up with all the Sabbatarian stuff there is to do online. I have lost the true essence of the Sabbath and my sense of who I am as a Sabbath Keeper. So tomorrow, Jez and I are going unplugged.

Regardless of your religion or lack of religion, challenge yourself to a month of Sabbath keeping. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in your life.

Oh yeah–the title of this blog. I guess I digressed! When I visited The Sabbath Manifesto’s website, I wished that my church, The Seventh-day Adventist had been the first to start a Sabbath campaign and challenge. For generations we have been a church anchored to our Sabbath-keeping. There are more 12 million or so of us around the world! Yet somewhere along the way of our Sabbath keeping, we’ve lost its essence–Some of us are so conservative that the Sabbath feels like a noose; others of us are so liberal that the Sabbath has become just another day; and even those like me who are in the middle somewhere simmer in Sabbath habit instead of rejoicing in Sabbath renewal. I think it’s time for my church to begin an aggressive marketing campaign to expose the “delights” of the Sabbath.

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