Sabbath by Dan Allender, with a forward by Phyllis Tickle and published by Thomas Nelson is a fantastic book. When I saw it on the possible books to review list, I snatched it up as fast as was possible. I waited with anticipation for it to come. I was not disappointed.
I was first introduced to Allender’s writings in college. Since then, I’ve been hooked. I was a bit nervous because the Sabbath seems to be an idea that is often approached with dogmatism and division. Nothing could be untrue about Allender’s book. There are absolutely no heavy-handed shenanigans in this book. Allender takes an extremely balanced and positive view of the day. When I was growing up I knew a family that would not allow their children to play outside. They could play inside as often as they wanted to play, but not outside. It always struck me as hypocritical–after reading this book, I think that Allender would agree with me.
The author makes some rather bold statements about Sabbath. He says, “In all cases, we can celebrate Sabbath, even in a fifteen minute window, and receive the gift of the day.” He goes on in another section of the book to say, “the Sabbath is a day of delight for humankind, animals, and the earth; it is not merely a pious day and it is not fundamentally a break, a day off, or a twenty-four hour vacation. The Sabbath is a feast day that remembers our leisure in Eden and anticipates our play in the new heavens and earth with family, friends, and strangers for the sake of the glory of God.” In yet another spot he says, “All too often we approach Sabbath like a forced conversation at a social gathering.”
Some more of my favorite quotes from the book:
* The Sabbath is a sensual delight to be enjoyed in communion with God, others and creation.
* We must enter the earth to be struck dumb by the beauty of the trinity
* In God’s economy, there is no distinction between work and play: his creation is not due to lack loneliness, or necessity. It was free and groundless–that is without reason other than delight.
* Sabbath doesn’t deny that death exists; instead it celebrates life
* Grace is not the exception to justice, but it’s fulfillment
Allender’s main point seems to be that Sabbath is so that we can enjoy ourselves and in so doing, we enjoy God. In one section he talks about listening to favorite music, drinking beer and smoking pipes as Sabbath activity. This book will not sit well with a lot of people, and that’s probably ok. I highly recommend it because it will start some conversations that need to happen. There’s a reason we tend to want to overlook the commandment about Sabbath, maybe it’s because we have been treating like something it’s not.
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