REST: Living in Sabbath Simplicity
Keri Wyatt Kent
Christian Life/Spiritual Growth
Author Interview –– January 2009
This is Keri Wyatt Kent's second book on the Sabbath (the first was BREATHE), and it couldn't hit the shelves at a more timely moment. Many people are living in fear right now, thanks to the sinking economy, and they're spinning their wheels trying to stay afloat. A message about Sabbath simplicity may seem incongruous --- who can afford to rest in such dire times? --- but stepping away from the fray and taking time for ourselves may be just what we need right now.
Kent makes a convincing case for just that. "Keep Sabbath because you can," she writes, "because you are free to do so, which is no small gift." And because it is a gift, we are free to keep the Sabbath in life-enriching ways, free from duty and obligation, free from a pleasure-robbing list of dos and don'ts, free from the constraints of legalism. The misguided notion that keeping the Sabbath is equivalent to obeying a strict set of laws, Kent observes, is often the barrier that prevents Christians from discovering the joy that results when we simply stop our normal routine and replace it with practices that restore a saner rhythm to our lives.
The book looks at the ways that six spiritual practices enhance our observance of the Sabbath and provide antidotes to our often toxic lifestyles. The first practice, resting, helps provide a cure for our restlessness and reinvigorates us so we will be prepared for the week to come. The second, reconnecting, frees us from isolation by bringing us together with other Christians at worship services and visiting with friends and family we seem to have little time for during the week. The third is revising --- getting unstuck and freeing ourselves from the ruts we find ourselves mired in simply by setting aside one day a week to do something different, no matter what that may be.
Number four, pausing, looks at the respite Sabbath offers from our hurried, 24/7 lives and the opportunity to "bask in grace." Playing --- a concept many workaholics have a problem grasping --- is number five, with prayer rounding out the practices at number six. Kent describes prayer as "an antidote for self-absorption," a malady that became culturally rampant decades ago: "The Baby Boomers, who were the first to be called the Me Generation, became the parents so bent on teaching self-esteem that they forgot the importance of teaching basic competence. Generation Me's [born in the 1970s through 1990s] confidence is based not on accomplishments but simply on the fact that they exist." The humility that goes hand-in-hand with prayer helps keep that misplaced confidence in check.
Kent offers both theological substance and practical application, and provides numerous real-life examples of Sabbath-keeping from her own experience and that of others. Best of all, she shows how observing the Sabbath can actually work in anyone's life; those who work on Sunday, for example, can take their Sabbath on another day, which is also necessary for those whose church obligations keep them from taking a significant break on Sunday. Kent encourages those who feel they can't take a full day off to start with a half-day, or even several hours.
The book, which includes a group study guide, is an excellent introduction, as well as a refresher and a much-needed reminder, on the benefits of taking a Sabbath rest --- benefits that God intended for His people all along.
--- Reviewed by Marcia Ford (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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