The introduction of the book opens with an attempt to move us away from thinking of Sabbath in a untilitarian (it is good for us) or vacation (get away from it all and relax) and toward a focus on delight. The introduction ends with:
“The way to make use of this book from the beginning is to ask the simplest question: what would I do for a twenty-four-hour period of time if the only criteria was to pursue my deepest joy?”
Dan Allender clearly wants us to alter our thinking away from “being quiet, reading the Bible, praying and thinking about God” as students in one of his classes suggested were the appropriate activities for Sabbath. Instead the books is mostly organized around the idea of play.
Allender quotes Diane Ackerman about the origin of the word play, “plegan (the word for play) meant to risk, chance, expose oneself to hazard.” Allender suggests that Sabbath should be the height of true play, meaning risky. This starts a very good section on why play is important to the Sabbath. But the most interesting to me was the comment and question as the end of the section. “Here is the key: we will one day be seated…and celebrate the Crucified and Risen One with abandon and delight. How might this day, then be our opportunity to pretend righteously?”
This is not a perscriptive book, but it is also not vague. There are many examples of how Allender works through his attempts at celebrating the Sabbath. And they are not just storied, but told in a way to illistrate the principles behind how we should be celebrating Sabbath.
Early in the book, Allendar asks how we justify the fact that only one of the commandments to we feel justified in breaking regularly. I think it is a good question. I know many will cite Christ’s quote, that the Sabbath was made for us and not us for the Sabbath or some other similar variation. But I do not believe that Jesus meant it is fine to ignore the Sabbath. Instead, he was holding the Pharisees to a higher standard that they were willing to submit to.
For me this was a perfect example of what the Ancient Practice Series should be all about. I have now read six of the eight books in the series and this was far and away the best of the series. I have appriciated several of the books, especially Fasting and In Constant Prayer. But the series as a whole is a very mixed bag.
My reviews of the other Ancient Practice Books