Header Image

Books about the Sabbath
One of the projects I am working on is an annotated bibliography put together by students of books about Sabbath keeping. A few of these are from an independent study and the rest are from a class I am teaching this January term.

50 Ways to Pray: Practices From Many Traditions and Times. By Teresa A. Blythe. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006. Pp. 208.
Blythe’s book explores, as the name suggests, 50 ways in which to pray. As one who is interested in praying practices for Sabbath keeping then this is an excellent source of information and a useful resource for any pastor’s or laypersons library. 50 Ways to Pray takes a look at 9 different styles of prayer: biblical reflection, contemplative practices, lectio divinas, life reflections, discernment processes, body prayers, prayers of the imagination, reflections on media, and praying for others. Some of these prayers styles, such as lectio divina are well known to many but others such as prayers of the imagination may be more esoteric than one may be used to. This scope of this book is to explore these nine different prayer styles as they relate to ones ability to bear the good fruits of the spirit. Each section is broken down into an introduction to the style, intention of various prayers within that style and then help guidelines and hints for caring out the specific prayer. The final section of this book is reserved for instruction to leaders who will be engaging groups in prayer. It goes over basic information on leadership style, and the structure of groups, as well as giving was for the leader to evaluate how a group is progressing. This book is not specifically about the Sabbath, yet it has so much information about spiritual practices that would be useful for Sabbath keeping that I added it to my bibliography. by James Sells.

An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith. By Barbara Brown Taylor. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2010. Pp. 240.
First of all, I love the voice Ms. Taylor writes with. I've read two other books by her and be incredibly pleased with each. So when I came across this, picking it for this class was a no brainer. I love this book because it's about practicing in the world around you. It details how your "sabbath" so to speak can be encountering God in every little thing you do. She details twelve "practices" that I found especially helpful. (What's really nice is that they are broken down by chapter so when you go reference you don't have to dig.) They are as follows:
1.) The practice of waking up to God (Vision)
2.) The practice of paying attention (Reverence)
3.) The practice of wearing skin (Incarnation)
4.) The practice of walking on the earth (Groundedness)
5.) The practice of getting lost (Wilderness)
6.) The practice of encountering others (Community)
7.) The practice of living with purpose (Vocation)
8.) The practice of saying no (Sabbath)
9.) The practice of carrying water (Physical Labor)
10.) The practice of feeling pain (Breakthrough)
11.) The practice of being present to God (Prayer)
12.) The practice of pronouncing blessings (Benediction)
I found number 8 particularly helpful, because it is something I struggle with. A lot. Also, Numbers 3 and 6. A few quotes I enjoyed: For instance, I can say I think it is important to pray naked in front of a full-length mirror sometimes, especially when you are full of loathing for your body. Maybe you think you are too heavy. Maybe you have never liked the way your hipbones stick out. Do your breasts sag? Are you too hairy? It is always something.
And my favorite: What we have most in common is not religion, but humanity. by Abigail Letsinger.

Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day. By Diane Ackerman. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2009. Pp. 240.
Similar to Listening Below the Noise, this is a group of meditations/stories. Diane Ackerman is an amalgamation of awesomeness. For real. She's a poet/writer/naturalist/anything.She calls her book a "collection of secular hallelujahs" (For real. It's on the dust jacket.) Obviously, this was love for me! I love spending time in nature and worshipping by being. She does SO much. A fun read that gave me a TON of amazing ideas. By Abigail Letsinger

A Day Apart: How Jews, Christians, and Muslims Find Faith, Freedom, and Joy on the Sabbath. By Christopher D. Ringwald. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. 312.
Amazing Book. I cannot even being to recount how much I learned about our brothers and sisters of different faiths. This book reminded me of our first semester religion and anthro class. I think it would be an amazing supplementary text. It looks at not just differences but similarities in these three religions. The back describes it as "marvelously readable" and I couldn't agree more. It looks at the Christian Sabbath (on Sunday) the Jewish Shabbat (on Saturday) and the Muslim Juma (on Friday.) I can not say enough good things about the book, so I won't even start. I want EVERYONE to find a copy of this. PLEASE. I have a library copy right now, and this is one of three books I have read over break that I am purchasing a copy of. That is how good it is. by Abigail Letsinger

A Day Apart: How Jews, Christians, and Muslims Find Faith, Freedom, and Joy on the Sabbath. By Christopher D. Ringwald. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. 312.
A Day Apart turned out to be my favorite of the four books I read for this class! Christopher Ringwald is a Catholic lay person who examines the Sabbath in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He explores the three weekly holy days, the Muslim Juma on Friday, the Jewish Shabbat on Saturday, and the Christian Lord’s Day on Sunday. Christopher Ringwald introduces the reader to three families, one Muslim, one Jewish, and the third Catholic (his own family). He shows how each family observes their specific holy day and what it means to them. A good portion of the book is dedicated to the history of the Sabbath. Starting with the Creation story, Ringwald moves to Moses on Mount Sinai and continues through the teachings of Jesus and the prophet Muhammad. He also discusses the effect of the Protestant Reformation, the Industrial Revolution, and concludes with the rise of weekends in the 21st century has had on how people view and observe the Sabbath. I have been searching for various ways Christians can observe Sabbath time. The book was valuable in providing me with suggestions as offered on page 262: Make it a day of culture, education, literature, arts, and renewal. Recreate and re-create. Appreciate and contemplate. Behold the world that we otherwise devour. Wander in your neighborhood, hike in the woods, attend concerts, and visit museums. Be in the world. For those who are in search of ways to escape the 24/7 frantic everyday world and discover ways to add meaning to their lives, then this book comes with my highest recommendation. by Stephen Van Slyke.

The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day. By Francine Klagsbrun. New York: Harmony Books, 2002. Pp. 269.
In The Fourth Commandment, Francine Klagsbrun provides readers with a delightful presentation regarding the Sabbath. This book is filled with historical, biblical, and theological material along with anecdotes from her own personal background. She does an excellent job providing detailed material and explanations derived from the Talmud, Torah, and from Kabbalah. Francine Klagsbrun discusses female perspectives on Sabbath issues such as the ceremonies, symbols, laws, and overall practices involved in this Jewish holy day. She uses many Hebrew words and explains the significance of each as applied to this Jewish tradition. After having a semester of Hebrew, I discovered I was able to understand and follow her Hebrew explanations quite well. This book actually covered the three reading requirements we have for the course. (1) The historical basis for Sabbath keeping. (2) The biblical basis for Sabbath keeping. (3) The theological question I have regarding Sabbath keeping. The book discussed how in the Jewish tradition the Sabbath forms the center for Jewish life. The Sabbath is part of the Mosaic covenant YAWEH established with Israel as the “chosen people”. As a result, the Sabbath has become part of every aspect of Jewish existence. The author discusses how it is woven into the fabric of Jewish family, community life, law, ethics, philosophy, literature, language, and theology. Prior to reading this book, I was not real clear on exactly what the Sabbath was about. I only associated it with the Jewish day of rest corresponding to the seventh day of creation when God rested. After reading this book, I now understand the Jewish Sabbath day is much more complex. One piece of information she discussed I found to be quite interesting involved Elvis Presley. It appears during his teenage years in Memphis, Elvis was a shabbos goy for a Rabbi and his family along with other Jewish families. A shabbos goy is a gentile who performs chores forbidden to Jews on the Sabbath. Overall, I found this to be an excellent book on the Sabbath. It is actually easy to read and goes fast. Therefore, I highly recommend it for all to read and enjoy. By Stephen Van Slyke

The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day. By Francine Klagsbrun. New York: Harmony Books, 2002. Pp. 269.
Klagsburn’s book takes a look at the practice of Sabbath keeping, from a Jewish tradition, in terms of its biblical foundations as practiced through the history of the law through the present day. She notes that the practice of Sabbath has changed and adjusted over time as the community who kept it changed. The text is divided into eight chapters and appendixes. The form of the book takes the shape of lighting and extinguishing the Shabbat candles; the prologue is a story of her parents practice of lighting the candles over their long marriage (titled Sabbath Lights) and the final chapter ends the time with the closing of this practice (titled Eternal Light). Setting up the form of this book in such a way invites the reader into deeper consideration of the Sabbath as the rest of the book is read within the time of the light.
Chapter 1: Spanning Heaven and Earth takes a biblical look at the practice of Sabbath as historical tradition as it relates to contemporary life. Chapter 2: Sacred Sevens/Sacred Sign looks at the meaning of the seventh day and the number seven through various traditions Christian, Muslim, and Jewish as well as philosophical analyzing how and why it became gained such meaning for the Abrahamic faiths. Chapter 3: Holiness in Space and Time talks about making Sabbath, the historical stories about the practice of keeping the Sabbath and remarks on the nature of keeping it. Chapter 4: Women at the Center tells the story of the roles that formed in throughout the history of keeping this day and the cultural norms and meanings that have adjusted throughout history.
Chapter 5: Of Labor and Laws traces the biblical tradition of the Sabbath keeping and the interpretations that have arisen throughout history as the law was attempted to be understood. Chapter 6: The Sabbath Jew and the Sabbath Gentile looks at the differences in a faith’s tradition of Sabbath keeping and how these differences originated, as well as what these differences have meant to each other. Chapter 7: The Loveliest of Days speaks to the transformative power of the Sabbath to effect the outlook of an individual and family and how it may elevate them during the time of the Shabbat. Chapter 8: Eternal Light brings a closing to the book as the tradition of ending the Sabbath, from a Jewish tradition is discussed and what that meant for those who practiced it.
Included in this book is an appendix which plays host to the Ten Commandments, a blessing for Shabbat, and notes on the book. I found this to be an extremely informative book about the ongoing search to understand the Sabbath and the practices that keep it holy. It was very interesting to read other tradition’s understanding of this day particularly the Muslim, as it is not a tradition that may are acquainted with at all. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a historic development of the Sabbath that traces itself back to biblical times and traditions. by James Sells

The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day. By Francine Klagsbrun. New York: Harmony Books, 2002. Pp. 269.
I read the book 4th commandment this week. The author is an orthodox Jew and she gave an interesting view of the sabbath from the legalistic point of view. She told a lot of stories of her sabbath days with her family growing up and how she still keeps the sabbath. For me this book was interesting because it gave a good historical point of view and it made me think for a long time about some of the things that she had to say in her book. She made me think of a question that has been haunting me ever since I read her book: How can one keep the sabbath with a family when she is a pastor? Can this still be done on Sundays or is it something that I have do on my own a separate day? She made it sound so wonderful to have a family day where there was special treats just for that day. How can a pastor do that with their family? It probably will haunt me until I get my family and have to figure it all out. Can one take a few hours time out of the sabbath while they are in the pulpit? or can the sabbath start after church? It makes me wonder how Rabbis do it with their family. by Trudy Pommerening

From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation. By D.A. Carson. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982. Pp. 444.
This book is actually a collection of twelve chapters consisting of theses submitted by various biblical scholars and theologians from around the world. Each scholar addresses specific themes regarding biblical, historical, or theological perspectives on the Sabbath. The theses are presented as academic and scholarly discussions on combinations of historical, biblical, and theological observances plus the nature of the Sabbath with references to many published sources.
I consider this book to be structured more along the lines of a traditional textbook. The information about the Sabbath the authors provide is excellent and exceptionally informative. However, I felt reading each thesis was comparable to reading an academic journal. As a result, I found some sections dry and slow to read through. Some of these areas were not very effective at holding my attention.
If an individual enjoys reading an academic text format, then I would highly recommend this book. If an individual does not enjoy this type of format, then I would suggest they bypass it and substitute it with what they would consider to be a more reader-friendly selection. By Stephen Van Slyke

Holy Day, Holiday: The American Sunday. By Alexis McCrossen. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2000. Pp. 204.
This book takes an in-depth look at the history of Sundays in America. Starting with the Revolutionary War the author looks at trends, laws, politics and economics all in regards to how Americans spend their time on Sunday. Any history buff would enjoy this whole book. Anyone who is not as interested in history would benefit from this book as it does give insight into what the Sunday has become. I would highly recommend anyone who is in the ministry or going into the ministry to read the last chapter, which looks at the 1920’s to today. To understand Sunday as a day of rest it is vital that people also understand the history of Sunday so I would recommend this book. by Suzi Orlopp

Holy Day, Holiday: The American Sunday. Alexis McCrossen. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2000. Pp. 204.
Holy Day, Holiday, is a history of the transformation of the meaning/significance of Sunday and the emergence of various behaviors and practices that accompanied that transformation. The author deliberately chooses not to view Sunday/Sabbath from the perspective of sacred and secular, but rather approaches the topic by examining how American understandings of work, rest, leisure and culture have impacted the Sunday practices and observances. The primary focus is on changes that occurred during the nineteenth century; some twentieth century developments are discussed as well. Economic and industrial/technological innovations, social, political, and religious forces are all discussed as factors contributing to transformation. The book contains meticulous end notes (154 pages of text; 32 pages of end notes) and an extensive bibliography. Illustrations--many from covers of late nineteenth and early twentieth century popular sheet music--and photos are delightful and interesting additions to the book and accentuate the themes presented in the text. Although the title led me to expect more discussion of sacred and secular, the perspectives presented led me to a new understanding of how transformed perceptions of work, rest, leisure and culture, have emerged in society, reshaping focus of Sabbath. I thoroughly enjoyed this thought-provoking book. By Margaret Jacobus

Holy Day, Holiday: The American Sunday. Alexis McCrossen. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2000. Pp. 204.
McCrossen’s book takes a look at the formation of Sabbath keeping and practice in America. Though it is an American history McCrossen traces it back to the biblical tradition and through the roots of the American style of Sabbath keeping developed from the European traditions. McCrossen’s main objective in this work is to show that the day of Sunday remains meaningful in our time because of the continued effort of Americans to gain satisfaction and meaning from their work and from their rest, and to seek such satisfaction in activities germane to both holy days and holidays (pg 5). The historical account given by McCrossen supports his thesis as he tracts the development of the American Sabbath from the formation of the country and its puritan roots up through the present day all the while the notion of holy day and holiday come closer and closer to one another in practice if not meaning. This presentation of American history supports McCrossen’s statement that the words secularization and de-Christianization of the Sabbath are not really substantiated based on the history of the day of rest and that “domestic, didactic, and commercial meanings for Sunday joined rather than replaced religious meanings (pg 16).”Within the historical structure of this book is hung the ideas and meaning of what “rest” is. This topic bookends the work as the question of “What is a Day of Rest?” provides its opening and “What is Rest?” closes it. Within these two questions hangs the historic debate. This was an interesting read with lots of information about the various traditions and values that were promoted and discarded as the American Sabbath developed into its present form, in its many different varieties. by James Sells

Holy Day, Holiday: The American Sunday. Alexis McCrossen. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2000. Pp. 204.
This book was a good history of the American Sunday. It was a little dry but the information was good. This book had some great illustrations in it of advertisements for Sunday. These illustrations are fun to look at. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in looking at the American history behind sabbath keeping and how it has evolved through the years. by Trudy Pommerening

Journaling as a Spiritual Practice: encountering God through attentive writing. By Helen Cepero. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008. Pp. 161.
Frankly, I found this book to be boring. It approaches Journaling form a somewhat controlled standpoint. And there are not enough suggestions on writing subjects. For instance, she spends a whole chapter on writing one's name and focusing on how God wants us to receive our names. I suppose that's all well and good for some...but I was bored to tears. I will say that there were two high points of the book. The chapters on "Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary" and "Writing for Healing." I found the sections on writing for healing to be particular helpful. An interesting (although somewhat childish) exercise she recommended was drawing a giant heart, and then labeling your different wounds and scars in it. Very therapeutic. By Abigail Letsinger

Journalkeeping. By Carl J. Koch. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2003. Pp. 222.
This is an incredible book on exploring the spiritual practice of journaling. It is so helpful that I think it could be used as a reference for the actual class next year. Just as a suggested reading or follow up book. This is an easy read, the format is simple to follow. Scattered throughout the book are quotes on writing and journal from different prominent authors, musicians, pastors, presidents, etc. It was really cool to see them pop up every so often. For instance "In the safety of the journal's pages, we can examine what lies beneath our "apparent" emotions, trace the past and present associations that interweave in our emotional lives, and get closer to the real heart of the matter." (Marlene. A. Schiwy)
Each chapter gives several suggestions about what you can write about, should you ever be at a loss. They range from listing people or places that are important to you at this specific time to daily things you can try and mention. My favorite is this particular list.
1.)Have my actions and decisions today aligned with my beliefs?
2.)How have I loved today?
3.) How did I sense the presence of God? OR What did I hear from the Spirit?
I think the reason this particular text is so helpful is that it presents the journal keeper with a multitude of options. It is a terrific guide for those who are looking to do more than just free write. By Abigail Letsinger

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting. By Marva J. Dawn. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989. Pp. 213.
A Lutheran theologian and teacher, Dawn writes this wonderful book about Sabbath keeping and how it is more than just a commandment for us, but rather a rhythm for the life of all of creation designed by God. This book spells out Sabbath keeping in terms encompassing historical, theological and biblical ideas demonstrating that "the Sabbath was created for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath".
To quote Dawn, "All the great motifs of our Christian faith are underscored in our Sabbath keeping", and she demonstrates this thoroughly throughout her book. In practicing ceasing, we emulate our Creator who rested on the seventh day, and in doing so we draw closer to God. In resting we stop our work and are revitalized to better serve God's people throughout the six other days of our week. Through embracing we grasp more of what Sabbath keeping is all about and prepare for its coming responsibly. By feasting we fully experience the entire experience of the Sabbath and are able to reach out more fully to God's children.
Dawn provides her own experiences, historical Hebraic understanding and rituals, as well as New Testament teaching and practices to bring us to a fuller understanding and celebration of all of what the Sabbath entails and means for all of creation. She incorporates elements of the Kiddush that includes the lighting of candles at the beginning of the Sabbath and at the end (Havdalah). She also refers to Judaic teachings throughout the centuries and how they have helped anchor those who practice the Sabbath to their God and to all of God's children.
While I could go on and on about all that I found fascinating about this book, I should rather just highly recommend its reading to anyone interested in Sabbath keeping, or anyone who simply wants to deepen their faith. I found it to be enlightening, informative, and inspirational. Dawn clearly demonstrates that keeping the Sabbath is an essential element in preparing all of God's children for every aspect of worship and ministry. By Rick Brenton

Listening Below the Noise: A meditation on the practice of Sileince. By Anne D. LeClaire. New York: Harper, 2009. Pp. 226.
This is a memoir of sorts. Ms. Leclaire practices total silence on the first and third Mondays of each month. Pretty amazing stuff. What is nice is it can be read as a book in its entirety or chapter by chapter as a reference guide of sorts. By Abigail Letsinger

Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time. By Dorothy C. Bass. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2000. Pp. 132.
This book offers a very practical look into the idea of taking a day as a Sabbath. The author focus on how Sabbath and time is a gift from God, and even more once they are recognized as a gift how are these gifts best used. The first part of the book looks at how we in our current time looks at time more as the enemy than as a gift. The author offers a candid look at our use of time. The second part of the book offers suggestions on how to live into using time as a gift and also placing ourselves in God’s time rather than our own. I would recommend this book to all who are entering a life change, as it would be also a beneficial time to change how time is used/viewed. I appreciated the second half of this book as it offered small changes one can make to truly embrace the day the Lord as made. By Suzi Orlopp

Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time. By Dorothy C. Bass. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000. Pp. 132.
The author embraces time as the essential ingredient to understanding, not only the Sabbath, but also all that is Christianity. While she does take time to focus on Sabbath-keeping as a source of renewal, she also places it in the context of the entire liturgical year, as well as within our Christian heritage.
Time is the essence that needs to be 'lived through', both on a personal and a communal level, helping every one of us to more fully appreciate our faith and that "...overcoming death with life is what God is always up to."(96) Our experiences in the liturgical year "...become the root of Christian life and action only when they draw us into the story of God, implicating us in the future of peace and healing that is already breaking into the present time." (109)
While I found this book to be interesting in its historical emphasis on time, fast & feasts and communal living, I felt it to be more of a secondary support for the implementation of the Sabbath. It helped me to understand more of the value of time in my faith and all that is true life, but not as much about the exclusive celebration of the Sabbath throughout the course of my life. It is however, supportive material for the quality of our time within the context that is Christian life. By Rick Brenton

Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time. By Dorothy C. Bass. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000. Pp. 132.
The title—Receiving the Day—reminds us that time is a gift, given by God, to be received with gratitude. Sharing anecdotes both from her own experience, and the writings and experiences of others, the author speaks to the cultural meanings and practices of time and the rhythms of time in our daily lives. This book speaks about the rhythm of time in several dimensions—not only days and weeks, but rhythms of the seasons, both of the calendar year and the church year, are addressed by the author. Relevant and practical insights are offered regarding how time can be embraced and cherished rather than regarded as the enemy. There is much in this book about balance and boundaries, however it is most often either stated indirectly or implied. This invites us, as readers, to modify the cadences of our lives to the rhythm of time rather than demanding that we conform to an unfamiliar and unwelcome beat. The final chapter talks about the quality, quantity, and gift of time, speaking poignantly to the author’s motivation for writing the book, and inspiring the reader to deeper reflection. In addition to being an excellent book for personal reflection it also offers perspectives to consider when planning liturgical worship. This is a book to be received and savored. by Margaret Jacobus

Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time. By Dorothy C. Bass. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000. Pp. 132.
I know I have enjoyed a book when turning the last page leaves me feeling bereft. I know a book has been meaningful to me when I would like to transcribe it onto 3x5 cards so the words might be always at hand. Receiving the Day by Dorothy C. Bass met both of these criteria in a resounding way. To the discussion of observing Sabbath – why we don’t, why we should, and how to bridge that gap – Bass has spoken to the sacredness and beauty of a day in and of itself as well as to the organic spiritual rhythms of the church year. Like other books on Sabbath she includes an enlightening section on time. One cannot help but wonder at how weighed down we allow ourselves to be by the cultural definitions of time well spent as opposed to living in the uplifting purpose intended in God’s gift of time to us. In a very helpful, down-to-earth conversation Bass gives us not only background on how we got to be who and where we are in our relationship with time, but she shares with us real things we can do, or at least strive to do, as we learn to be stewards of our time in God’s name. Receiving the Day had a message for me that I had not anticipated. There are repeated, but not overly frequent, references to our perception of time and the use of our time as we value life in the face of death. A dear friend, who spent eighteen months in total and devoted attendance to her husband in his dying, now finds herself not only with ‘nothing’ to do but wondering what God has planned for her life. I bought her a copy of this book. My friend is faced with both the tragedy and the challenge of beginning her life anew, and I think Dorothy Bass has words that will help her find comfort and purpose. by Marsha Vollkommer

Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time. By Dorothy C. Bass. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000. Pp. 132.
This was an excellent book that discussed time and how if affect our daily lives. We are all gifted with the same amount of time each day. I could really relate to her own life issues and solutions with time. As with the rest of the books I read this is a great book. by Charlie Underwood.

Sabbath. By Dan B. Allender. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009. Pp. 208.
Two very strong threads of premise run through Dan Allender’s book Sabbath. The first states that setting aside one day in the week which is unique in its difference from all other days is not an option but a strong and irrefutable mandate from God, given in the fourth commandment. The second is that this day is, at its core, intended to create for us a time to pursue delight and joy. At one point Allender tells of spending a Sabbath walking with a friend through a city park in Philadelphia, and the conversation that spun out between the two of them. Oftentimes as I read the beautifully crafted prose of his book I felt as though I, too, was walking along with him while he wove his knowledge and passions and deep belief in Sabbath into a narrative that both enlightened and inspired me.
Allender’s belief in Sabbath as mandate from God brooks no compromise. Once he has stated what he believes to be the obvious in this premise in the early pages of his book, he brings our attention back to the fourth commandment and its ramifications only often enough to remind readers what this journey is about. Moving forward into the book he addresses a variety of reasons Sabbath is such a foreign concept – and little-observed practice – for the majority of people, and gives us a tantalizing peek at what a day of delight in one’s life might signify. Chapters unfold that help us understand how we might create our own Sabbath. Dispensing convincingly with the preconceived notions we hold of what Sabbath is supposed to be, and why we don’t have time to engage in it, the author invites us to the wonder of sensual glory, holy time, communal feast, and play. He delves deeply into the dark recesses of the heart and brings into the light our propensity for division, injustice, betrayal and enmity. By illuminating the damage these feelings perpetuate on not only those around us, but on the peace and fullness of our own souls, Allender helps us realize that finding joy and delight will never be achieved until we can begin to offload some of this debilitating baggage. In conclusion the author reminds us of God’s invitation, God’s participation, and God’s longing on our behalf in this celebration of delight and joy that we are called and expected to share with Him.
Allender’s book emphasizes the intention of celebrating Sabbath. He helps us understand that careful planning is not only important but necessary, not out of slavish adherence to a formula that avoids work or demands silence, but because we will not find delight if we do not know what it looks like and how to go about pursuing it. The author, who is a therapist as well as an ordained minister, interjects a strong psychological component in his book. It serves a valuable purpose in reminding us of those parts of ourselves that will only creep in to foil any attempt we make at creating a day of joy and delight. This section of the book invites us to sober, but necessary, self-reflection. The stories from Allender’s life and his experiences of celebration bring to the book a sense of inspiration and commonality. This man is not suggesting we do something that is beyond our reach. Sabbath is full of promise and possibility. I found it…delightful! By Marsha Vollkommer

Sabbath. By Dan B. Allender. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009. Pp. 208.
This book was extremely interesting. I was captivated by it from the moment I picked it up to the moment I finished it. I have never read a book in one day until I started this one at Sinsinawa Mound. I felt like the author was speaking to me the entire time because I could see myself in the excuses and the unbelief that he talked about whenever he would ask people why they don't observe the sabbath. For me this was helpful to see an example of how to keep the sabbath. I thought originally that this book would be more of a history book because of the title and introdution, but it was almost journal like at some points and informative in the others. I enjoyed the book and would readily suggest it to someone who is struggling with the sabbath. By Trudy Pommerening

Sabbath. By Dan B. Allender. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009. Pp. 208.
This book was not at all what I expected! Although I knew nothing about the Ancient Practices Series, that label conjured up images of a volume written from a scholarly, historical, academic-type perspective, and in the style that frequently accompanies that perspective. Wrong!! Rather, Sabbath is a book that took me on a delightful journey. In the Forward, Phyllis Tickle writes, What has happened for me in working with this manuscript is a transposition of the Sabbath from rule and commanded observance to holy romp and secret playground where each visit only adds another level of delight, (x). Woven into the text there is scripture, theology, history and contemporary personal experiences; quotes from St. Augustine, Karl Barth, Jurgan Moltmann, and friends of the author; thoughts on silence and on singing and dancing. These seemingly incompatible threads are skillfully crafted into beautiful fabric that the reader can use to design an intentional Sabbath, tailor-made for their use and enjoyment. I especially enjoyed the insights into Sabbath play, and found the sub-section Lifting a Thimble, (125-126), especially meaningful and relevant. Surprising and enriching—an enjoyable book. by Margaret Jacobus

Sabbath. By Dan B. Allender. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009. Pp. 208.
Allender's book deals specifically with the topic of joy on the Sabbath. The book is laid out in three parts. The First deals with the pillars of the Sabbath, speaking about the Sabbath in terms of glory, holy time, communal feast, and a play day. Allender's main point in this section is that many things can be done on the Sabbath, and the practice of Sabbath keeping can change from week to week but if the activity is done without delighting in the day, and if one does not receive the day with joy, then the Sabbath has not really been practiced. The second part deals with the purpose of the Sabbath and surrendering to the experience. This portion speaks about the gulf that we though up between ourselves and with God through sin and the need to welcome the day of Sabbath, welcoming the Father into our lives, to recognize God’s grace and reconciliation in our destitution. The third portion of the book seeks to explore the performance of Sabbath in various ways and levels. It is concerned with the acting out of Sabbath as ritual and symbol, going back to a theme of play (in a theatrical sense) that is woven throughout the entire book, Allender entreats us to view the Sabbath as God’s play, one in which we are actors. Allender also talks about the Sabbath through the performance of silence in order to confront the “foul and foreign voices before Sabbath”, the voices of evil, which lead into the sweet voice of praise for God and the good work that God has done. This section closes with a look at Sabbath justice, which is the outgrowth of the freedom we have been given and a freedom that should be exercised for joy. This book would make a fine addition to the library of the lay person or rostered leader who seeks to study the Sabbath from a perspective of joy and delight gained by participating in God’s great play. by James Sells

Sabbath and Jubilee. By Richard H. Lowery. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2000. Pp. 152.
Lowery offers a very in depth look into the biblical terms of Sabbath, Sabbath year and Jubilee. Each chapter looks at different aspects and parts of these ideas as found the bible. The author mostly uses the Hebrew Bible as his resource but also traces how these concepts were translated into the New Testament. While the concepts of Sabbath and Jubliee are from ancient days the author does a good job of applying these concepts into modern times. I would recommend this book to an academic audience or someone who has a solid background in biblical knowledge. I could recommend, for the non-academic world, the summaries at the end of each chapter. I would the summaries helpful to read prior to reading the chapter as it gave direction to what was about to be read. by Suzi Orlopp

Sabbath: Finding Rest Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives. By Wayne Muller. New York: Bantam Books, 2000. Pp. 232.
I found this book to be an enlightening and enjoyable read. Pr. Muller gives us a ecumenical view of Sabbath celebration, drawing from many different faith traditions. As a result, it also approaches this subject from an historical and theological point of view. Most chapters are relatively short, which would lend itself to many teaching opportunities, and includes at the end of each chapter some suggestions as to how one could incorporate these spiritual practices into their own lives. Reflecting on the concept of holy time, Pr. Muller well illustrates how God's time is different from our society's quest for space. He brings this to our attention by using many different topics within this one, to emphasize how our perspective on God's time is needed regulary, both in our work week and in our daily lives. The final few chapters of this book are also were especially interesting for me because the author offered some historical practices that the reader might consider to incorporate into their own lives; in terms of daily, and overall in order to better appreciate what Sabbath time is truly all about. I highly recommend this book, not only for its examination of the Sabbath, but also how the author incorporates many other practices and topics of today's world into this process. It has given me inspiration for perhaps a year's worth of sermon material. by Rick Brenton

The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man. By Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1951. Pp. 118.
Approximately two years ago, I was listening to an NPR broadcast of Speaking of Faith hosted by Krista Tippet. The broadcast focused on Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, his teachings, and writings. Rabbi Heschel is recognized as one of the most respected, admired, and loved religious leaders of the twentieth century. During the broadcast, his book The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man was referenced and highly recommended for reading. Since then I have wanted to read this book and this class has provided the opportunity to do so.
In The Sabbath, Rabbi Heschel discusses Judaism as a religion of time, not space, and the Sabbath day symbolizes the sanctification of time. He discusses how the meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space and the material things which occupy it.
To answer the question, “What is the Sabbath?” Rabbi Heschel states: “It is spirit in the form of time. With our bodies we belong to space; our spirit, our souls, soar to eternity, aspire to the holy, the Sabbath is an ascent to the summit. The Sabbath gives us the opportunity to sanctify time, to raise the good to the level of the holy, and to behold the holy by abstaining from profanity” (page 75).
I found The Sabbath to be a well written scholarly meditation on the observance, nature, and celebration of the Sabbath. It provides detailed background information on the spiritual, biblical, and theological basis of the seventh day of creation. Furthermore, it provides an excellent insight into how to apply the meaning of the Sabbath to an individual’s life. This book is given a high recommendation on Amazon and I endorse it as a classic must read! Rabbi Heschel is a gifted writer and I feel all who read this book will take away something of great value from it. By Stephen Van Slyke

The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man. By Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1951. Pp. 118.
I chose The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man, by Abraham Joshua Heschel, anticipating historical or biblical perspective. In retrospect, both were there. Truth be told, I found this not a difficult read but a rather uninspiring one. Heschel’s work is often quoted in Dan Allender’s Sabbath with regard to the definitions and relationships of time and space. Both books emphasize the imperative to observe the Sabbath and what that observation might look like as they explore our place in the spatial world and the temporal world, our influence (or lack thereof) over each, and who God is in each. Perhaps because it is more contemporary by six decades, Allender’s writing style was far more inviting to me than Heschel’s…perhaps because I live in a world far more comfortable with simile and metaphor than with allegory. That does not mean that I did not find beautiful and inspiring words in The Sabbath. In a brief discussion of the difference between God-mandated labor and man-made toil Heschel says, “It is one thing to race or be driven by the vicissitudes that menace life, and another thing to stand still and to embrace the presence of an eternal moment.” (p.29) By Marsha Vollkommer

The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man. By Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1951. Pp. 118.
In this classic, Heschel demonstrates his philosophical view of celebrating the Sabbath. From recounting the stories of Rabbis past, or expounding on how the Sabbath is to be understood, Heschel explores with us his grounding in this practice. While interesting in its understanding, personally I was hoping for more of an historical understanding of the rituals of Sabbath, rather than the basis underlying it. However, Heschel does do a good job of spelling this out. Heschel explains to the reader that time is 'holy'. This is because ...we are able to have time without space, but we can never have space without time. As such, time is where humanity is completely without control, and where only God rules, eternally. The Sabbath then, is the point in time where our Creator provides us with redemption, and humanity is given this gift eternally every seven days. It is the only day that the words of the Torah were ever given to humanity. Sabbath is God's gift for humanity, rather than humanity's gift to God. It is to be celebrated as commanded, and kept 'holy' by humanity, always. by Rick Brenton

Sabbath Keeping. By Lynne Baab. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005. Pp. 130.
The book by Lynne Baab Sabbath Keeping was a very helpful book for someone just starting to understand the observance of the Sabbath. The author describes her experience of living in Israel where they most diligently observe the Sabbath. The book has many down to earth tips to get you started in trying to learn how to observe the Sabbath. I found her basic theology very inspirational, "The Sabbath teaches us grace because it connects us experientially to the basic truth that nothing we do will earn God’s love."
She gives very definitive reasons to observe the Sabbath, “time to reflect, what areas of life do I need God most?" are just two of many. She says that without rest we hinder our ability to experience God's love. She addresses the Sabbath from a very spiritual view point rather than purely theological perspective. The approach appealed to me and my specific needs. If you are looking for practical advice on various ways to observe the Sabbath, this is a very good book. It looks at the day to day issues and obstacles that you encounter. She has been observing the Sabbath for over twenty-five years. By Charlie Underwood

Sabbath Keeping. By Lynne Baab. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005. Pp. 130.
Days Pass,
Years Vanish,
And we walk sightless among miracles.
(an old Jewish Sabbath prayer)
If I take one thing from this book, it will be that. Something I've started to pray everyday. It says so much. Ms. Baab included it in a little blurb buried deep in the middle of the book, and it has stuck with me. This book is a little simple, but does offer some helpful tidbits. It would probably be a good pre-requisite to Sabbath classes. Mostly because of this "list" of questions to help on understand their own Sabbath activities.
1.) Does it promote rest and/or relaxation?
2.) Does it bring delight or enjoyment?
3.) Does it give you sense of holiness or sanctity? In other words, does it add to your sense of Sabbath?
by Abigail Letsinger

Sabbaths 1987-90. By Wendell Berry. Ipswich: Golgonooza, 1992. Pp. 47.
This book of poetry absolutely spoke to me. I am one who sees God in nature and love to be outdoors when I reflect on God and everything around me. Wendell Berry is amazing at putting everything in perspective in comparing the way nature functions and how we impact that flow, most often in a negative way. But Berry does not linger on the negative but shows us the beauty, tranquility, and harmony that we can see in nature. I enjoyed this book so much that I ordered on to keep in my library. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to see God in nature. By Charlie Underwood

Secrets from the Treadmill: Discover God's Rest in the Busyness of Life. By Pete Briscoe & Patricia Hickman. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2004. Pp. 211.
A great read. Lots of scriptural tie ins. I probably will go back and re-read this at some point when life gets hectic! One great part was the section on the 5 lessons of Shabbat. It's hard to get into without detailing the entire book, but I'll try. This text appealed to me because in big bold letters on the back it said "Do you feel guilty when you take a day off?" And to that, my answer has always been yes. This book deals with the idea of a sabbatical, and how it can be used. By Abigail Letsinger

The Sense of the Call: A Sabbath Way of Life for those Who Serve God, the Church, and the World. By Marva J. Dawn. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006. Pp. 295.
Dawn offers a very interesting look into a way of living Sabbath. The author gives a unique perspective from the Lutheran world. Anyone who is working in the church, as an ordained pastor, AIM or any other church staff should read this book. This book speaks truth in a way that hits home without making one feel upset or embarrassed. This book also offers a look into the author’s personal life which make the book seem much more approachable. If one cannot find time to read the whole book I think reading the section on rest is the most valuable, however, the rest of the book builds on this section so reading the whole book is advised. by Suzi Orlopp

The Sense of the Call: A Sabbath Way of Life for those Who Serve God, the Church, and the World. By Marva J. Dawn. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006. Pp. 295.
The Sense of Call is a thoughtful and thought-provoking book that will be kept close at hand throughout my ministry. Although this book is written to address the needs of leaders in the church, its content can be applied much more broadly--“…this affects all Church members who learn in the Christian community a Sabbath way of life for serving in the world,” (xii). Using the same four themes explored in her earlier book, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, the author re-orders these themes—resting, ceasing, feasting, embracing—exploring and developing them in ways that specifically speak to issues that confront the servant-leaders of our churches. The author’s profound insights are based in scripture and theologically sound. The bibliography is extensive, and throughout the book the author notes and frequently comments on the bibliography entries that are particularly applicable to the discussion. I must admit I was a bit irritated by the author’s numerous references to her own ill health. However, this minor irritation is inconsequential given the depth of insight and motivation for self-reflection this book offers. by Margaret Jacobus

The Sense of the Call: A Sabbath Way of Life for those Who Serve God, the Church, and the World. By Marva J. Dawn. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006. Pp. 295.
This was another good book. I think I will used this more as a reference book than some of the others. I especially liked the section “The Courage to be God’s Servant” and expounding on the words in St Timothy. That part of the book really hit home to me. Do we sometimes act like we are ashamed of the Gospel. In the chapter on Rest I like the ways she defined rest in so many different ways and how it influences us. One of my favorite quotes was God does not call us to success, but to faithfulness. The chapter on saying “No” was important to me because I have always had a hard time saying no when someone asked something of me. I know in a Parish situation that can be a problem. I would highly recommend this book to lay people and leaders of the church. by Charlie Underwood

Sunday:A History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Super Bowl. By Craig Harline. New York: Doubleday, 2007. Pp. 450.
I'm not usually a big fan of blatant history books, but this one caught my eye. I think the main reason I picked it was the hope that it would help me to garner knowledge that would someday help me should I ever land that much coveted spot on Jeopardy! This books is exactly what it claims to be. It reads similar to senior sem project, with about 45 pages of end notes, and footnotes on nearly every page. (Not surprising because Mr. Harline is a professor of history at, get this, Brigham Young University). Was this book boring? YES. But did I learn some things? YES. Would I recommend it to anyone? Eh. Probably not. To my dismay, there are no "this is a fact" type sentences. Just a lot of observations. It was interesting to learn about Pagan influences on "The Lord's Day" (For instance, in the second century there was a cult in Rome known as "Invincible Sun" which was the official cult of many emperors. Part of this was something called Mithraism and followers of Mithra actually observed Sun Day in greater numbers and much more rigorously than early Christians.) Also interest was learning when the attitude towards "Sunday" started to change (The early 1900's) and why (In addition to WWI, and women working,, the growing economic divide played a HUGE role in how strictly the Sabbath was observed. Elizabeth Stanton once commented that it was fine for the wealthy, but to expect tenement children to stay inside all day was unrealistic). Long story short: I was sucked in by the cover and the title. It is not nearly as interesting as it looks. By Abigail Letsinger



Footer Blend