In our frantic, frenetic society, where first-graders are in football leagues and children carry phones and planners to keep up with elementary-school extracurriculars, we need to "remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy" (Exodus 20:8) more than ever. But do we? Most of us recognize those words from the Ten Commandments, but we don't know how, or even if, they apply to us today.
Karen-Marie Yust, a mother of three and author of Real Kids, Real Faith: Practices for Nurturing Children's Spiritual Lives (Jossey-Bass), says that in this overscheduled and overworked world, kids need to learn at an early age that they can take time to rest and focus on God.
"Our culture sends us the opposite message—if you're not frantically on top of everything, belonging to every imaginable club, and working all the time, you will be unhappy and unsuccessful," says Yust. There is real power, she adds, in taking a rest. Sabbath helps us learn that God is in charge, and Sabbath observance teaches us that taking a break is good. It's one way to say to your kids, "You will get into college even if you don't have that eighth extracurricular activity on your application."
A Family-Friendly Sabbath
Though Christian history is steeped with teachings about the Sabbath, we don't have too many contemporary models for Sabbath observance. Some of us might remember Sabbath-keeping from our childhood, when the stores closed on Sundays, and families spent leisurely afternoons lingering over lunch and napping.