Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Sabbath Eve Reflection

The Puritans were big on preparing for the Sabbath. They used Saturday evening to focus their minds and hearts for the coming day of the Lord. Prayer, meditative Scripture reading, and family worship, all played integral roles in weaning their minds and hearts away from worldly concerns. What they strived for was depth, a deeper communion with God in corporate worship that began in their private devotions.

Contrast that with today's view of the Sabbath. Most modern Christians don't maintain a view of the Sabbath at all. For them, merely showing up at church should earn them some brownie points with God. I have been repeatedly told by people to move the worship service back as early as possible in the morning, so that the whole day might not be wasted! How different is the Westminster Confession's teaching on the Sabbath: "This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are take up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy" (21:8; emphasis mine).

What are we doing with our Sabbath eves? our Saturday nights? What will our heart disposition be upon awakening tomorrow, and entering God's house for worship? Let us be still before the Lord, and prayerful, casting aside all of the world: its cares and allures, and spend time in a place apart with Christ. Perhaps if we do so, the next day's praise will seem brighter, the Word more relevant, and the preaching more affecting. In that precious book, The Valley of Vision, there is a prayer for Lord's Day Eve, which ends:

I pray to be clothed with humility,
to be quickened in the way,
to be more devoted to thee,
to keep the end of my life in view,
to be cured of the folly of delay and indecision,
and to know how frail I am,
to number my days and apply my heart
unto wisdom.


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