Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy? Who But God Can Say That You’re Doing Religion Wrong?

I am not a Christian. Actually, I am not a follower of any religion that worships the God of Abraham. While I was raised in a community where Christianity was the majority religion and was taught the basics of a Protestant faith as a child, I have to admit that the Christian religion has never called to me personally. So I generally try to stay away from any debate about Christian ethics or the interpretation of scripture. Instead, if I want to discuss religion, I will tend to stick to writing about my own NeoPagan religion as I did in a recent article, “Beyond the Bell, Book and Candle”.

Occasionally though, I will be inspired by something a fellow writer has shared. And today I was inspired to respond to @rextrulove’s wonderful post, “The Confusion Over the Sabbath.” In this post, Rex looks at the fact that Christians of different denominations can often hold very different views about how to observe the Sabbath – and most especially on what day should be observed as the Sabbath Day. Rex’ sensitive look at why God set aside the Sabbath is one that I hope all people of faith will read, regardless of their chosen path.

What is the Sabbath Day?

In Abrahamic tradition, God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. The Sabbath, from a Hebrew word that means simply “to rest,” is a tradition of taking one day out of a 7-day week to rest. It is commonly looked upon as a time to gather together as a religious community for the purpose of worship and fellowship. In Judaism and Islam, it would seem there is universal agreement about when the Sabbath falls. But in Christianity, there are differing traditions about which day of the week should be observed as the Sabbath, sometimes called the Lord’s Day. Unfortunately, those differing traditions have also led to a history of sometimes very ugly accusations between one branch of Christianity and another.

The Need for Rest and Recreation

In his post, Rex makes a really good argument about how the Sabbath can be kept holy in different ways. He appeals to all Christians to understand that the important thing is that a person rests one day out of every week and not necessarily when or how he rests. Rex reminds us that the Sabbat was created for man and not for God, who is tireless and doesn’t need to rest.

You may also be reminded of the words of Jesus in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (New American Standard Bible, NASB) These words were spoken in response to a challenge from the Pharisees, who condemned Jesus for a great many practices. In this particular instance, it was his disciples picking grain as they walked through a field on the Sabbath. Jesus responded by pointing out that even the commandment to keep the Sabbath Day holy was sometimes subject to exceptions.

It is, I think, in a similar vein that Rex responds to the question of when and how to mark the Sabbath – and also to the matter of one Christian questioning another about working on the Sabbath. “If we catch ourselves criticizing a brother or sister because they are working on the Sabbath, it is we who are sinning,” says Rex, as he points out that no one of us can know what another finds relaxing.

The Sabbath Day as a Communal Observance

It’s a perfectly good argument. And certainly, the Bible admonishes us not to judge another. However, there are two matters left untouched if we choose this particular approach to a discussion of Sabbath Day observance: fellowship and accountability. Customs such as observance of the Sabbath Day are as much a matter of culture and agreement as a religious community as they are a question of one person’s relationship with God. And when we get to a point where they are decided by the individual alone, and not in agreement with his church community, both the individual and the community can suffer.

If God had thought it enough that each person should rest once as week, the commandment could easily have been worded, “Keep one day aside to rest and worship, each according to your need and habit.” The fact that a single day was specified to an entire people would seem to indicate that God understood the need for communion with one’s family, as well as with one’s religious and cultural community.

God must also have seen, even if man did not, that it becomes all too easy to take our own day off by delegating unpleasant tasks to another. This was one of the reasons that many communities fought against the lifting of so-called “Lord’s Day Acts” that traditionally set out restrictions against shopping, gambling, sports and other activities on Sundays, considered the Sabbath by most Christian denominations. Those communities understood that, while there are some essential services that a sizable community needs even on the day of rest, others are a matter of convenience.

Thus, lifting bans on Sunday shopping tends to create a second class of citizens who are expected to pump gas, take tickets at the movies, cook and serve food, or keep the dollar store running so that others can enjoy their particular form of recreation on the Sabbath Day. When do those service industry workers get their day of rest, you may ask? It’s a question that generally goes unanswered, especially in an economy that commonly sees such workers holding down two or even three jobs just to make ends meet.

When Sabbath Day observance works best is when an entire community takes time out to stop working. The whole community needs to spend time together doing things that restore body, mind, and soul. It’s a matter of balance and of promoting health in both individuals and the community. Observing the Sabbath together is not a question of forcing one person’s standards on others, but rather of reserving a day each week for activities that restore and replenish. When done right, it’s truly a beautiful thing – not a matter of arguing over who is right or wrong.

A Commandment to Hold Others Accountable

We’ve seen that Sabbath Day observances tend to be more powerful when a community makes choices about the Sabbath together. But what do we do about people who break with tradition? And what about those who identify as Christians but don’t belong to any church? Should each Christian simply be left alone to do his own thing? Perhaps in our day we must make allowances for solitary practice, even in Christianity. But if one Christian believes another is failing to keep the commandment of the Sabbath Day, is he wrong to challenge his brother?

Jesus himself said people of faith should hold each other accountable when they felt a neighbour had sinned. In Matthew 18:15 we are told, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” (NASB) The following verses make it clear that a good Christian should not simply point out a sin once, and then leave it to his brother to reconcile himself with God. There is a whole process of escalation that continues right to the point of ostracizing a community member who refuses to repent.

“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.”
~ Matthew 18:17 (New American Standard Bible)

It seems pretty clear that if one person departs too much from the customary observances of his community, he poses a threat to the community as a whole. Christians are not commanded to judge or to condemn, as that is not a business for humans. But a certain kind of avoidance is prescribed, lest a small irregularity on the part of one Christian be seen by others as permission to take similar liberties with the interpretation of the word of God.

Even when a person belongs not a member of one’s own personal church community, if a Christian feels he isn’t keeping the Sabbath it may still be a matter for concern. Religion has become much diluted in our day. There is something to be said for trying to rally other Christians and to agree upon Sabbath observances that are designed to nourish the individual and to reinforce the bonds of a religious fellowship. This can be especially important if a Christian hasn’t found a church of his own, as he is already missing a spiritual community.

The Importance of Fellowship in a Religious Community

So, when Jesus taught that Christians should confront each other about perceived sins, did He not understand that some men would enjoy pulling the weeds in the garden? Did God not foresee that there would come a time when some people would be needed to care for the sick even on the Sabbath Day, or to respond to emergency calls to fight fires or respond to crime scenes, or perhaps help a lost child find her way home on the Sabbath? It seems unthinkable that an omniscient God would not know there would always be exceptions and different ways to interpret the commandments.

Perhaps this is why there has always been a tradition of reading scripture communally and discussing its meaning in pairs and groups. From the Jewish tradition of havruta to Bible exegesis, fellowship has always been emphasized over solitary study – and respectful debate about the possible interpretations of scripture over blindly accepting the viewpoint of a single authority figure.

Religion is often defined as an organized expression of faith with rules and standard observances. But we would do well to remember that the literal interpretation of the word is “to bind back again.” Religion is about fellowship and communion, first and foremost. And we cannot lose sight of our relationship to our fellow man and to a religious community in our insistence upon a personal relationship with the Divine. Each of these things is important. And they must be balanced if an individual and his community are to truly “get religion,” as the popular saying goes.

A certain respect for both personal differences and differences between Christian denominations is important. But the act of coming together must be respected too. For some, that coming together will be a communal celebration of the Sabbath Day, with all members of the community favouring some activities while eschewing others. But sometimes too, fellowship will come in the form of a concerned brother asking his neighbour, “Why do you work on the Sabbath Day?” No man is perfect. We all struggle sometimes upon our path towards a better understanding of the Divine. But it is no sin to challenge a friend, especially when the intent is to better understand that friend or to help him with a perceived imbalance in his life. It is a matter of brotherly love and of religion – of seeing when a neighbour seems disconnected and trying to help him bind himself back to the things that matter once more.


Sabbath is an observance common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But the controversy over Sabbath Day observance is associated most with Christian religion.

The Sabbath is often marked by a celebration of the Eucharist
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Original content © 2016 Kyla Matton Osborne. Featured image by pixel2013/Pixabay/CC0, public domain.
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  1. Pat Z Anthony

    It is interesting to me that many (religions) think the same, but often just notice differences. Imagine if more just felt none of the differences mattered.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      So true, Pat! The backbiting that I see today amongst many who claim to be Christian certainly wasn’t part of my experience when I went to church regularly. I had decided to leave Christianity long before I was exposed to all of the finger pointing, and I’m very glad of it. I just try to steer clear of the controversy most times, as those among my friends who truly live a Christian life are some of the kindest and most wonderful people I know.

  2. Olivia Morris

    Truly we are meant to celebrate our oneness and our uniqueness. Each of us will be different from the others and there will never be another like us again…..that is something beautiful to celebrate. Well written piece Kyla.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      I love the way you put it, Olivia! And this is why I feel so blessed to include good people of many different faiths among my friends. If we can all come together to celebrate our differences rather than to focus on finding similarity despite those differences, we are all richer for the experience. Not meaning to paraphrase PM Trudeau, but he does really get it, doesn’t he?

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Yes, from the various articles I’ve read it does sound like you are very involved in your church and quite busy with Sabbath Day activities 🙂

    2. Olivia Morris

      The part I really liked about having a “set” Sabbath day, was that families could have fun together. Nowadays with people working 7 days a week, that is not possible sometimes. Families are much poorer for not having communal time together.

    3. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      @oliviamorris I do think that not only families but also communities suffer for the fact that we don’t really have set hours and days anymore for “downtime.” Computers and the internet have created a 24/7 global village that, while it’s exciting, can also take time away from our loved ones.

      This is especially true when employers expect employees to be on-call even when they are on vacation. Or when low-income earners are forced to work 2-3 jobs, just to make ends meet. When do people have time to relax and enjoy family activities or to connect with their communities?

      When I was a young woman, a minister I greatly respect taught me that a lot of the commandments in the Old Testament were designed to preserve human dignity and to help people get along in their communities. Far from being an exercise in blind obedience to an ethereal being too large for humans to grasp, most of the rules in those early books of the Bible are about maintaining wellness and balance – both within the individual and in the community.

      When people try too hard to exempt themselves from the rules, to find loopholes or to come up with clever interpretations that are tailored specifically to justify something they feel needs to be explained or excused, they are already on the wrong path. I believe the goal was always to care for the whole person – body, mind, soul, and social network too.

      Rather than choosing to see the commandments as a set of restrictions that we either follow slavishly, cheery pick as we feel like, or resent because they feel imposed, what we ought to do is to try and figure out WHY each rule was set out and to see its value in our lives. Whatever our religious path, whatever the rules, if they help to make us whole and to maintain our well-being, they can still have value today. And if we are going to adapt them to the realities of 21st-century living, we need to take great care to preserve the spirit of the law rather than its letter.

  3. Jo Pin

    We all have different beliefs and views in terms of religion and the tradition we grew up with. I am a Christian and fellowship with others both believer and unbeliever is very important, most particularly on Sabbath day. We share a common purpose, that is to praise and thank God. As a Christian, our belief is not based on religion but it is having a personal and deeper relationship with God.

    1. Olivia Morris

      Jo Pin, as a Christian we are called to have a personal and deeper relationship with God every day of the week. We are also called to be “Christ-like” to everyone we meet and interact with. This is not just a Sabbath undertaking, it is a life undertaking. Praising and thanking God is also something we should do daily, minute by minute sometimes. Sabbath is for communal worship with your Christian family, and to hear and read the word of God, and be fed by his sacrifice for us. That is why we should go to services on the Sabbath. To be nourished body and soul.

    2. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      @oliviamorris I like how you put it, Olivia. And certainly, it’s why I would go to a Pagan worship circle. Even though our worldviews and beliefs are different in many ways, we all need the same basic things as human beings. One is fellowship among like-minded people.

      I find it peculiar when some people say that Christianity is NOT about the Bible or about religion, and they imply it’s ONLY a matter of their personal relationship with God. If that were the case, why does the Bible exist? Why were churches created?

  4. Barbara Radisavljevic

    You did an excellent job on objectively explaining this. I think both you and Rex have Picked up the spirit of what is important about the Sabbath. You are also right that if everyone has a different day, it means someone has to work on the Sabbath. If I choose to eat out, someone has to cook, etc.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      I think that awareness of someone else having to work if you are to enjoy your recreations on the Sabbath is really important. How does a person keep the Sabbath holy if he is causing another person to work?

    2. Barbara Radisavljevic

      I find it interesting that in the Old Testament law, family members, servants, and even work animals were also supposed to get the Sabbath day off to rest. Yet Jesus made it quite clear that the same people who were quick to judge their neighbors for working on the Sabbath, or his own healing on the Sabbath, had no qualms about rescuing a son or an ox that had fallen into a well.

    3. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      @barbrad I have to say that, as a Pagan, there are a lot of times when I relate much better to Jewish or Old Testament thinking, rather than to the way some people interpret the Bible in contemporary Christianity. I think even the comments we see on articles such as this one tend to show a lack of concern for the “others” (including the family members, servants and animals you mention) and a sort of narcissistic attitude of “as long as I can justify what I’m doing on the Sabbath to my own satisfaction, it’s all good!”

      I don’t claim to have the all the answers, but my feeling has always been that Jesus was just trying to point out that some people use their religion to justify or further a personal/political agenda. The hypocrites who point fingers at someone they despise for working on the Sabbath would do the same, but only if it were to their own personal gain. Those same hypocrites would also use the Sabbath as an excuse not to help someone in need. That’s just apathy or laziness, not piety.

      I often get a strong sense about someone’s sincerity as a person of faith, regardless of whether that individual shares my faith or follows another. I’ve met some truly beautiful Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and even atheists in my life. It’s easy to tell these people are full of love and kindness. Unfortunately, others seem to preach their faith for political reasons or because they love to hear themselves speak. In my wanderings online, I have met both the sincere and the insincere. I am very fortunate to count some of the most sincere, like you, among my friends. You are truly a blessing 😀

  5. Rex Trulove

    Not only is the day of the week unimportant and not only is that not at all the point of the Sabbath as explained in the bible, the reason for the disagreement is quite easy to understand. It can be summed up by trying to answer the question, “What day is the last day of the week?” By the common calendar used in America, the last day of the week, which would be the Sabbath if Genesis was used as a guide, is Saturday. Sunday, again on that calendar, is the beginning of a new week.

    However, I’ve had few jobs when I didn’t work on Saturday AND Sunday. So for me, if my days off are Tuesday and Wednesday (for instance), the last day of my week would be Tuesday and my new week would begin on Wednesday. So in that case, my Sabbath would be Tuesday.

    Thankfully, most denominations understand that it really makes little difference and isn’t at all the point. It is a minor point of debate rather than an argument. Some churches simply hold services on Sundays. Others hold them on Saturdays. That is mostly a matter of convenience as the Bible is clear that we should worship God every day, not just once a week.

    Our church, Assembly of God, has three services on Sunday, Bible Study on Tuesday, another service on Wednesday, a prayer meeting on Thursday, and most weddings are held on Saturdays. Back when I belonged to the Pentecostal Church, there were even more services held. In some countries, people are persecuted and prosecuted when they have even one service a week. That doesn’t stop them from having a service, but the time that is selected for it is even more arbitrary, for obvious reasons.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Well actually, I think that history demonstrates that there was a shift to Sunday worship during the time of Constantine. It was not so much a question about when the week ended, as it was a desire to incorporate some customs of the Pagan solar cults into a new Christian worship. This increased the numbers in the early church and it was seen as a positive by certain Christians who were eager to set themselves apart from the Jews who kept the Sabbath from sundown on Friday and throughout the day on Saturday.

      I spent most of my life in Montreal, where churches are a major part of the landscape and it’s quite common to see the mass celebrated daily. This is not an attempt to accommodate people whose rest day at work varies. Nor is it because there are so many differing opinions as to when the last day of the week or the Sabbath falls. As you say, there is a tradition of worshipping every day.

    2. Rex Trulove

      Many things like this had more than one reason for being done. Undoubtedly, the Christian observance of Christmas on Dec. 25 is another example. Jesus was born (most likely) in April, not December. But Yule was a big Pagan celebration and festival. Choosing Dec. 25 had nothing to do with when Jesus was born, but to get more people willing to listen to the good news of God. For that matter, Christmas isn’t nearly as important as Easter, though it is more widely celebrated to this day. Still, it worked and more people were willing to hear the good news of God, which led to a lot more people becoming Christian.

      A lot of people want to debate what day the Sabbath falls on, but that wasn’t even specified in the bible, so truth is, we have no idea. Pick a day. It was still the day seventh day, following the six days of creation. However, it is immaterial in another way. How many times has our calendar been revised? lol In fact, Sun day, Moon day, Tiw’s day, Wodan’s day, Thor’s day, Frige’s day and Saturn’s day were also not Christian names. They weren’t even English, though we use the English versions.

    3. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Thanks for sharing your understanding of how Christmas came to be celebrated in December, Rex. I know how much you like to share your knowledge. Of course, that’s really a whole different topic for another post on another day. Perhaps you’ll decide to write it yourself 🙂

  6. Rex Trulove

    Incidentally, you said, “So, when Jesus taught that Christians should confront each other about perceived sins, did He not understand that some men would enjoy pulling the weeds in the garden? Did God not foresee that there would come a time when some people would be needed to care for the sick even on the Sabbath Day, or to respond to emergency calls to fight fires or respond to crime scenes, or perhaps help a lost child find her way home on the Sabbath? It seems unthinkable that an omniscient God would not know there would always be exceptions and different ways to interpret the commandments.”

    No different interpretations are necessary and yes, Jesus understood. Mark 3:1-6 showed this really well —

    “1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? To save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
    5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.”

    Notice Jesus’ response to the religious lawgivers (the Pharisees) and how clearly he understood what they were thinking, though they had not actually accused him of anything at the time. Still, the bible says that we are to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. It doesn’t say that we are to remember Sunday and go to church. This is one of those things that can be way over thought. How hard is it to understand that we are to remember the day of rest and to not do evil things in the process? It becomes difficult to reinterpret it to mean something different when the words are rather plain. The only question each of us really needs to answer is, “When is our day of rest?” That is going to be variable for each individual, naturally.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Yes, this scripture is the bit that follows the story of the disciples picking grain on the Sabbath. I quite agree that Jesus wanted people to understand that it is ALWAYS lawful to do good.

      These particular passages do a great job of relating what happens when one group of people (the Pharisees) becomes jealous of another group (Jesus and his followers) and seeks to undermine and even harm them because of the jealousy in their hearts. We can often see similar actions in our daily life today: a disgruntled employee who chooses to tattle to the boss rather than trying to work things out with a coworker, a group member who feels threatened by a change and instead of addressing her own fears decides to gossip about the group when she visits with people from outside the group, etc. These same jealousies can still destroy relationships today if people let them. It’s a reminder that Jesus’ message is timeless.

      Jesus’ message in this and similar passages doesn’t speak so much about how one SHOULD keep the Sabbath holy. Rather it warns against attempts to create a very legalistic set of restrictions that are so rigidly interpreted that they get in the way of doing what is right. So these scriptures speak more about how NOT to keep the Sabbath, rather than how it should be kept.

      The following is a passage I found particularly instructional, from the Assemblies of God. I find it harmonizes very well with what I’ve been trying to say about the importance of keeping the Sabbath as a spiritual community:


      Many Christians today attempt to fulfill the Sabbath solely as a day of rest, believing that any activities which interrupt routine personal work duties (and especially those that provide a sense of personal pleasure) constitute God’s intended rest. Advocates of this “pleasurable rest” theory believe they can best observe the Sabbath through pleasurable activities (e.g., an enjoyable shop at the mall, a prolonged Sunday morning sleep, or time on the golf course). But this attitude fails to recognize the latter portion of the admonition: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

      No church can dictate personal holiness. Nor should it create a set of legalistic restrictions for observing the Sabbath. However, it is right for the church to call believers back to a holy reverence for this special day. In doing so we must face the question of what is appropriate for the Sabbath. This should not be determined on the basis of what is wrong, but rather on what is right for the Sabbath.

      What is right for the Sabbath? It is right to sacrifice time to allow time for God. It is right for the Sabbath to give undistracted focus to our Heavenly Father. It is right to allow opportunity for thanksgiving and worship. It is right to use the Sabbath for study and personal discovery of God’s love and His ways. It is right to use the Sabbath for self-examination, confessing sins, and seeking repentance. It is right to pursue personal communion with the God who fills the spiritual void in our souls. Healthy fellowship in a local church with others of like belief is especially right for the Sabbath.

    2. Rex Trulove

      Indeed, those things that are listed as right are right every day of the week and not just on the Sabbath. I think that many people may not understand what constitutes ‘holy’ as in ‘keeping it holy”. One of the best simple definitions for holy in this instance would be “God-like”. Again, this is going to be a little different from person to person, but a person can simply ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” This is, of course, a worthwhile question for any day, too. But if it is inserted into your examples and others, it becomes much more plain (to me at least).

      Would Jesus sacrifice time to allow time for God? Of course. He did so daily. The same for the other activities that focus on God, in your last paragraph.

      Here is where it gets a little trickier, though. Would Jesus go hang out at the mall? He probably would, though not to shop. He often went to where the crowds were to tell them of our loving father.

      Would Jesus spend time on the golf course? Though the statement about crowds does apply, it is unlikely that Jesus would go golfing purely for recreation and exercise. For that matter, he certainly didn’t need the exercise, since he walked everywhere he went and probably had a pretty stout build from all the work with stones, from his youth. However, as long as a person praised God every step of the way, he probably wouldn’t have objected if Matthew and Luke had played a round of golf. (I purposely mentioned Matthew and Luke because the former was once a tax collector and thus a very wealthy man and the latter was a doctor. In today’s world, they would have been the most likely among the disciples to want to play golf for recreation. lol)

      That is really the crux. Given that God is praised and worshiped, would it be appropriate to go play in the garden (what I feel that I do when I’m weeding, etc)? Yes, especially given that gardens, plants and trees were repeatedly mentioned in the bible in a positive sense. Would it be appropriate for everyone? No, because for some, that would be labor. Would it be appropriate to go fishing on the Sabbath? Certainly. Jesus, though a builder by working with Joseph when Jesus was a young man, was quite expert at fishing, as were a number of the disciples, and Jesus was also a fisher of men. Not everyone would be able to relax by fishing, though, so it wouldn’t be inappropriate for them.

      Jesus was also the new covenant, so the laws of Moses and Abraham weren’t as rigid as before the time of Jesus. Still, in all of that, the day of the week was never specified, nor was the many ways to ‘keep it holy’. That is easy to explain, too, and you’ve done a good job of explaining it. In the first case, it wasn’t specified because which day was unimportant. In the second case, there are a great many ways to keep it holy and some of them will be different, depending on who this is applied to.

    3. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      I notice that you repeatedly avoid any discussion of the communal nature of Sabbath Day observance, which is central to this article and also mentioned as an important aspect of keeping the Sabbath in the quote from your own church. You’re trying to carry out a parallel debate.

    4. Rex Trulove

      Not at all, because there is no debate. Fellowship is needed. I go to church services on Sunday (sometimes twice on Sunday), Wednesday and often on Tuesday. I’m also at the church almost daily for other reasons than fellowship, study and worship. I worship at home as well. Even in a non-religious way, most people (excluding hermits) need companionship and fellowship in more than one way and I don’t think many people will deny that. From the religious side of it, to me it is rather like brainstorming. When I talk to people about Jesus and the bible, including outside of church, it helps me to think of things I’d not thought of before or to think of things from a different point of view. To me, that is how we grow.

      I don’t see the fellowship as necessarily attending church services, though I do. A church is merely a building. Jesus actually addressed that in Matthew 18:20 – For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them.”

      The two or three people mention are in communal fellowship, but Jesus didn’t say that they must gather together specifically in church. Many of his own sermons were to crowds that were not inside a building. Our pastor would naturally prefer to see people in church for services, however he repeatedly preaches that the location isn’t nearly as important as the action. I’d agree with that. In fact, this weekend is the weekend of our county fair, which is held here in this town (though it isn’t the county seat). Church services will be held at the fairgrounds rather than in church (which is why I’m here and not there, as services would be commencing right now. It costs nothing to enter the fairgrounds, but it does cost to park. We can’t afford it and I can no longer walk the mile to the fairgrounds.)

      Anyway, I agree for the need of communal activities on the Sabbath. I also agree with the need of communal activities on other days and even if a person isn’t religious or hasn’t heard the good news of God. I’ll admit that I’m both a country boy and a mountain man, so I do avoid very large crowds when I can, on the Sabbath and otherwise, but I don’t see that there is any debate about the communal fellowship.

  7. Tania K Cowling

    Very interesting article. Although, I don’t practice a specific faith or go to a church — I pray at home and worship on any day I feel the need. I guess I determine my own sabbath, and so far it has been working out fine. Going in my garden and enjoying nature is the perfect place for me to pray to God.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      I think a good many people worship this way today, Tania. There are a lot of advantages to a personalized approach to religion. And this particular approach certainly appeals to me as a NeoPagan, since our traditions favour very small religious communities and a focus on one’s individual relationship with the Divine. I do also believe there is value in communal traditions, though. And I very much respect those of my friends who do keep their Sabbath as a family or a community. I can see the joy and peace their traditions bring them, and the power their traditions have to strengthen their bonds.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Diversity is certainly something we should celebrate in life, whether it be our cultures or our religions 🙂

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