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Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting [Paperback]

Marva J. Dawn

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Book Description

1 Jan 1989
But I dont wanna go to church! Marva Dawn has often heard that cry—and not only from children. What a sad commentary it is on North American spirituality, she writes, that the delight of keeping the Sabbath day has degenerated into the routine and drudgery—even the downright oppressiveness—of going to church.

According to Dawn, the phrase going to church both reveals and promotes bad theology: it suggests that the church is a static place when in fact the church is the people of God. The regular gathering together of Gods people for worship is important—it enables them to be church in the world—but the act of worship is only a small part of observing the Sabbath.

This refreshing book invites the reader to experience the wholeness and joy that come from observing Gods order for life—a rhythm of working six days and setting apart one day for rest, worship, festivity, and relationships. Dawn develops a four-part pattern for keeping the Sabbath: (1)ceasing—not only from work but also from productivity, anxiety, worry, possessiveness, and so on; (2) resting— of the body as well as the mind, emotions, and spirit—a wholistic rest; (3) embracing—deliberately taking hold of Christian values, of our calling in life, of the wholeness God offers us; (4) feasting—celebrating God and his goodness in individual and corporate worship as well as feasting with beauty, music, food, affection, and social interaction.

Combining sound biblical theology and research into Jewish traditions with many practical suggestions, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly offers a healthy balance between head and heart: the book shows how theological insights can undergird daily life and practice, and it gives the reader both motivation and methods for enjoying a special holy day.

Dawns work— unpretentiously eloquent, refreshingly personal in tone, and rich with inspiring example—promotes the discipline of Sabbath-keeping not as a legalistic duty but as the way to freedom, delight, and joy. Christians and Jews, pastors and laypeople, individuals and small groups—all will benefit greatly from reading and discussing the book and putting its ideas into practice.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (1 Jan 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802804578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802804570
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 13.9 x 1.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 666,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Marva J. Dawn is a theologian, author, musician, and educator with Christians Equipped for Ministry, Vancouver, Washington, and Teaching Fellow in Spiritual Theology at Regent College. A scholar with four masters degrees and a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics and the Scriptures from the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Dawn has spoken for clergy and worship conferences and seminaries throughout North America and in Madagascar and in Eastern and Western Europe. She has written many books, most of which are published by Eerdmans.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
WE START WITH the importance of ceasing on a day set apart as holy because the name Sabbath comes originally from the Hebrew verb shabbat, which means primarily "to cease or desist." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Christian Approach 25 Jun 2002
By Kellyann F. Wolfe - Published on Amazon.com
As Ms. Dawn says in the Preface to her book, legalism is contrary to the keeping of the Sabbath. The important thing is the keeping of the Sabbath for the health of one's relationship with God, and for one's own spiritual, physical, and emotional health.
I have found this book to be one of the most important things I've ever read: it offers practical ways for Christians (and others, if they care to borrow) to keep the Sabbath, which is helpful for those without a strong model to work from. The book is broken into four parts, of seven chapters each, so it can be read a chapter a day for four weeks, gently guiding the reader into a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the day of rest. It also focuses equally well on the negative (ceasing and resting from things) and positive (embracing and feasting) aspects of the Sabbath.
I am sorry that the previous reviewer of the book was unable to glean the many helpful and exciting ideas that I found, especially as both she and Ms. Dawn seem to have an equal respect for Abraham Joshua Heschel's book on the Sabbath (another book everyone should read). Contrary to her perception of it, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly is an holistic approach to Sabbath-keeping, entirely centered around God.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good "how-to" book 13 Nov 2005
By Victoria Shephard - Published on Amazon.com
Finally a Sabbath book that doesn't seek to convince one of which day should be kept as the Sabbath, but focusses instead on HOW to keep the Sabbath. The book is broken into four major parts - ceasing, resting, embracing, and feasting. Each of those chapter breaks its subject down into seven areas. For example, the section on resting covers physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and social rest.

You don't have to agree with the author or her experiences to see the value in taking 24 full hours off each week. I can testify that when I was both working and going to school, that 24 hours kept me sane and gave me something to look forward to.

If you want to know which day is the Sabbath, this book isn't for you. (I would recommend Samuele Bacchiocchi's book "From Sabbath To Sunday" to treat this subject.) If someone is looking for ways to keep the Sabbath and experience the full blessing of God on this day, then this book gives many ideas.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful but not well executed 28 Dec 2006
By mtlimber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When it comes to the Sabbath, there are four basic questions: What is it (what does it mean)? Who should celebrate it? When should it be celebrated? and How should it be celebrated? Dawn's is a mostly practical book on Sabbath-keeping, and she spends most of her space discussing the last question and conspicuously -- and, I suspect, intentionally -- avoids the other three. (For a relatively brief theological discussion of those other concerns from a Christian perspective, I'd recommend chapters 28-30 of John Frame's Doctrine of the Christian Life.)

I read and discussed this book with a group of folks from my church. In general we liked it, but I think the book could have used a better editor to help keep Dawn focused. She has many good things to say herein, but not all of them actually belonged in this book. She could have excised some of the tangents (e.g., on our sexuality) and entire chapters (e.g., the one on worship music), and the book would have been just as useful as far as Sabbath-keeping is concerned but more readable because it strayed from the topic less.

We also found the two middle sections on resting and embracing to be in large part redundant or unrelated to the topic at hand. The summaries of those sections that appeared later in the section on feasting, however, were more helpful and meaningful to us than the sections themselves, and we found ourselves wishing she had developed the theme of resting as repentance, for instance, more fully in those middle sections. (If you get bored by the middle, don't give up -- the section on feasting is much better!)

All in all, the book is useful, but it could have been executed in a better way, methinks.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Special Symbols for a Special Day 23 Nov 2005
By S. L. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
This is the second Sabbath book I have read (the first being "Celebrating the Sabbath" by Bruce Ray). My question has always been, "How do we keep the Sabbath holy as the Lord says? I know it is supposed to be a day of rest, but what else and how does that look?" I was delighted to read about this author's special detailed attention given to this holy day.

I enjoyed her references to Jewish tradition and symbols and what they meant. Since reading this book, I have adopted the practice each week of lighting the Kiddush candles while praying to mark the start of the Sabbath when I go to bed. The following night, I then light the Havdalah candles while praying to commence the Sabbath. This has helped me to be intentional about my activities during the time in between these two lightings.

The author emphasized the need for us to learn how to celebrate life on the Sabbath. She showed how fellowship with others, going to church, alone time with God, reading morally uplifting books (not studying), recreation or sleep, feasting, appreciating God's creation outdoors or in art, and more can all be part of God's Sabbath day.

She also equally addressed what to stay away from and how to avoid certain unholy attitudes during this special day.

The author's perspective is also from a lifestyle of singleness. A good perspective, but I must say that being married and having children would change how observing the Sabbath would look. I do hope to eventually find a book with a family Sabbath outlook.

Overall, a great book of concrete examples of how God would love for us to enjoy Him!
26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A desperately needed message 24 Feb 2003
By Paulito - Published on Amazon.com
In a world of labor saving devices and wonderful technology, we seem to be more stressed out than ever. And in some churches, those who take more and more responsibilites upon themselves are viewed as being the most spiritual and dedicated to God.
I personally am active in church. I think some folks stay away from church altogether just so they can rest, which is NOT the answer...rest also involves focusing on God, getting our priorities re-aligned, etc.
This is a great book, which will really get you thinking as you seek to carry out God's commandment to rest for one day out of seven.
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