Sabbath Day !!!


God resting on the seventh day
(18th Century Russian icon)

The special significance of the seventh day of the week, called the Sabbath, begins with God’s creation of man on the earth. According to the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God created man on the sixth day; and on the seventh day “he rested from all his labors,” and therefore sanctified (made holy) the seventh day.

Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. – Genesis 2.1-3

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed – Exodus 20.8-11

In the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, in Genesis, the seven-day week is defined after the description of God’s efforts in establishing the world, and universe with the seventh day being the Sabbath, commemorating God’s day of rest.

In Apostolic times the practice is noted in Acts of meeting together on the first day of the week for Eucharistic Sacrifice which is called the Lord’s Day in remembrance of our Lord’s Resurrection. By the second century the Lord’s Day was looked upon as the day of rest and the day for celebrating the Divine Liturgy, replacing the Jewish Sabbath. Then in 325, the Council of Nicea formally declared that the Lord’s Day, Sunday, was the day of worship for Orthodox Christians.

We learn God’s saving truth and Law from both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Biblical truths are not just Jewish or Christian, they are divine and therefore eternally Orthodox (right thinking, right worship and right praxis) and eternally Catholic (Cut from the whole – Having universal application for all times and places).

Saint Gregory of Nyssa in the late fourth century referred to the Sabbath and Sunday as “sisters.” And about A.D. 400 Asterius of Amasea declared that it was beautiful for Christians that the “team of these two days comes together”…”the Sabbath and the Lord’s day,” which each week gathers together the people with priests as their instructors.

In the fifth century, St. John Cassian refers to attendance in church on both Saturday and Sunday, stating that he had even seen a certain monk who sometimes fasted five days a week but would go to church on Saturday and Sunday and bring home guests for a meal on those two days.

“Scripture tells us that when God’s labor is fully complete on the Seventh Day, He rests.  As the icon above beautifully illustrates, His rest is not sleep, but an active contemplation of the goodness and beauty of all creation that comes into being out of His infinite love.  Thus the Sabbath day is holy unto the Lord and to us because it is an opportunity par excellence to meditate upon and express gratitude to God for the goodness of all creation and the great gift of life itself.

In the Gospel we see that Jesus Himself becomes our Sabbath Day when He invites us with these words: “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)  He fulfills this invitation by His three-day burial and resurrection from the dead.  Our faith teaches us that His rest in the tomb is in no way passive, but rather the trampling down of death’s, and the restoration of our ability to return to Our Father who is the source of all goodness.

There are so many ways to engage in the sacred work of rest.  We can rest alone, like Jesus often did.  We can end our day not with a TV sitcom or the horror of the evening news, but simply by lying in bed with our hearts and minds filled with gratitude for the good that God enabled us to do during the day, and repentant for the good we failed to do.  We can picture the faces of our children, spouses, friends, co-workers, those we like and those we struggle to like, and pray that no matter what we may always love them with the love of Jesus.

And, since the Lord always rejoices when we seek Him, we can take up His invitation and come unto Him and receive the gift of His rest.” — Per

Honor your Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ by resting in His Arms on both the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.  Worship Him! Attend both the All-Night Vigil service and the Divine Liturgy as you prepare yourself for the Eucharistic Supper.

About padrerichard

I am a Priest with ROCOR.
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