online book group: Sabbath in the Suburbs, chapter 1


In this first chapter, MaryAnn McKibben Dana paints a picture with which many of us are familiar: the recognition that it’s been months since a blank day on the calendar, feeling like life is “a 500 piece puzzle with 600 pieces,” a persistent feeling that we can’t seem to do it all but we need to do it all anyway.

When was the last time you had a day with no commitments or plans? When is the next time?





In our culture we do seem to believe that time is “a scarce commodity to be hoarded”–regardless of what we say about Abundant Life or Commandments or God-is-in-control or anything else, our actions belie our true reality: there is not enough, and we need to cram in what we can. Even four extra minutes can make or break our schedules. We are, really, enslaved to these expectations–that we will “do more, produce more, build more” (and I would add “go more” and “be more” to the list!). The trouble is that those are the same chains that held the ancient Israelites in Egypt…and God freed them. Will we allow God to free us?

What are your associations with the word “Sabbath”?

What appeals to you about the possibilities of practicing Sabbath?

What stands in the way?

“Sabbath keeping seems quaint in the 21st-century….But what’s not to like? … The world would go on without us. We would be dispensable. WE would let God’s grace seep into us in a way that it can’t when our lives are crammed full of activity.” (p4) MaryAnn and her family experimented, and now share their experience with us. This is not a book only for those with children, or those with free time, or those with jobs, or those of a certain age…it’s a book for all of us–a book that will guide us as we seek a new way. As she says, “For one day a week, we would take a day of rest that, we hoped, would help put the remainder of the week in better perspective.” (p5) We can all use some perspective, right?


One response »

  1. One problem for me is defining what is and is not work. I love to play the piano and organ but rarely do so just for fun. If I don’t have a performance of some kind coming up, other things such as answering e-mails, writing letters to members of Congress, volunteering for various organizations, and general housekeeping tasks take up my time. So is it keeping Sabbath if I’m practicing because I love to play and also have a performance to work toward? Is sitting around in my pajamas early in the day, reading the newspaper and working the crossword puzzle keeping Sabbath? Is attending worship services on Sundays keeping Sabbath if you’re singing in the choir and/or playing the piano or organ for the service?
    I never have a whole day without something to do unless I’m sick. Rather than say I’ll take a whole day for Sabbath, I prefer taking an hour or so here and there. I consider going to meditation practice at the Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple Saturday morning as keeping Sabbath. However, recently I’ve had to miss several Saturdays because of playing for memorial services at church or have been out of town for a meeting. If I can’t go to the Saturday meditations I sometimes meditate on my own at a different time, but often let other things keep me from doing it.

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