Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Sabbath column

Correction: the following more clearly states the nature of my column, which I write for www.Todayschildrensministry.com . It's a part of www.christianitytoday.com, but I am not a columnist for the magazine of the same name. Just to clarify.

My monthly web column for kids ministry leaders, For Your Soul, was featured front and center on the ChristianityToday.com website today. Usually it's tucked away on the Today's Children's Ministry page. That's the good news.

The bad news is that said column contained an error--a glaring one. I wrote about Sabbath, and said it was the sixth commandment. Nope. It's the fourth. And I knew that. I really did. But I was hurrying to write my column (which was about slowing down and taking a day of rest, ironically) and somehow that got in there. Ugg.

As my kids would say, "my bad!"

Since it was featured so prominently, I've been getting e-mails today (mostly from pastors) helpfully pointing out my error.

Not to put to fine a point on it, these readers have not been kind.

Here's one comment that someone left anonymously on my website:

"I am astounded that you would write an article about Sabbath keeping, have it published online in Christianity Today, and not bother to get the number of the commandment right. Remember the Sabbath is the fourth commandment.

The sixth commandment is Do not Kill."

Ouch. I feel like such a fool.

Ok, Mr. Anonymous Bible Expert, speaking of the SIXTH commandment, here's a verse for you: Matthew 5:21-22. Where Jesus says that anyone who says "You fool!" will be in danger of the fire of hell. In other words, that unkind words can wound like a knife.

Now, I admit, I got the number wrong. And I hate any kind of inaccuracy in my writing. And again, to clarify, it wasn't in Christianity Today (the magazine) but on a website run by the same company. But the number of the commandment wasn't the point of the article--it was about how to practice Sabbath, to take a rest, and how we often don't do that. Still, the majority of the e-mails have been about my mistake, and only a few have asked for help with actually practicing Sabbath, or offered insights about it. And if we know the number, or the letter of the law, but don't live by the Spirit of the law, what good is that?

I wrote about Sabbath in my book Breathe. And I'm currently working on another book on this topic. Because Sabbath is more than commandment number, and even more than just a day. And I do know it is the fourth commandment. but, as the response to my article shows, we tend to focus on the wrong things when it comes to Sabbath.

The Sabbath and Jubilee commandments of the Bible reflect God's heart for justice, generosity. they are commands to trust, to rest, to share. You can learn more about this side of the Sabbath from my friends at Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries.

I'll post more later about some more thoughtful responses to my column. A few people asked me about further details on how to actually practice Sabbath, and I'd love to hear from some of you about that!


Dianne said...

Well, technically, the only ones that God took time to note number-wise was when Jesus told us what was the first and most important commandment (love your neighbor), and the second "like unto it." Methinks God is a little bigger than a numerical list! I for one can't wait to get my hands on both Breathe and Listen. I have been trying to make Sundays more of a Sabbath of late by eliminating some things that usually clutter up my days. But I haven't figured out what to specifically incorporate into them yet.

Anonymous said...

Hi Keri:
I had to comment on your book Breathe. We received it with our MOPS magazine last month or so. I am the coordinator for our local group and as I was looking at the book, I thought it would work well for the summer Bible study we are planning to offer our moms. Hey, they already had the book in hand, etc. So I started reading it. Did well until Chapter 8. There we meet Naomi, who is Jewish. I guess I have a problem profiling a Jewish woman who evidently does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ in a book that seeks to draw us closer to Him. I am not comfortable using your book in a study with moms who are either new in their relationship with Jesus or have not made that commitment. Shabbat does not replace relationship with Christ. We will be discussing your book and how it is wise to be discerning in the materials we use and always seek to place Christ at the center of our lives. Unfortunately for Naomi, the names God and Christ are not interchangeable (unless of course, she is a messianic Jew,which was not mentioned in your book). I will also be contacting MOPS Intl. to share the concerns we have with this. Sharing this with love and concern, Sheree

Keri Wyatt Kent said...

Dear Sheree,
My book profiles women who are at all different places on their journey. I purposely chose women who are not perfect, but who are on a journey. The woman in the first chapter has not yet made a commitment to Jesus, either. And the rest vary greatly in their spiritual maturity.
I guess it's hard for me to understand why you wouldn't want to let the women in your group who have not yet made a commitment to Jesus look at the life of someone just like them. don't you think it might be helpful to ask them--what do you think is missing from Naomi's life? What questions does she wrestle with? Do you ever wrestle with those things?

Christianity has it's roots in Judaism. Our Old Testament is the Torah, the Jewish Scriptures. I also have to point out--Jesus was Jewish. He was a rabbi.
And Shabbat does not replace our relationship with Christ, but it does foreshadow it, as so many Old Testament traditions do. Jesus says, come to me and I will give you what? REST. Shabbat is grace--God provides even when we cease striving. It's a picture of living in grace.
If you change your mind and use it for your study, I hope you'll check out the MOPS website to get a free downloadable study guide for Breathe. And I'd love to have further dialog when we have a live on-line chat, also at www.mops.org, the week of June 18-24. please join in and feel free to voice these concerns--you're asking important questions.