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Making Time for Sabbath: Rest in a Technologically Plugged-In Age

InAfrican American news - being "plugged in" 24 hours a day a recent Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper article (Sunday, September 19th 2010), in the Living and Arts section, a story entitled "Time Out For Tech," discusses the notion of how many of us are now technologically wired (or plugged in) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This hints at the suggestion of family breakdown or at least diminished quality of time spent within the family setting. The story goes on to convey the idea that we all (to an extent) allow ourselves to be overtaken by work and others competing for our time.

A similar book also spells this out under the idea of Sabbath, and taking time out from our busy lives to take a Sabbath's rest. The book, "Receiving the Day: Christian Practices For Opening The Gift Of Time," by Dorthy Bass, notes that like God, who took a Sabbath after the six day of creation, we, too, are to find time to take off. The Sabbath was instituted in the religion of the Jews and has been carried over to Christian practice. Sabbath, a Hebrew term for 'seventh', was given to the people of Israel. They was instructed (in recognition to their God) to engage in worship, prayer and sacrifice. They were not to work, walk long distances or engage in any practices that were deemed as exerting themselves. This was to be a day of rest and worship.

Living in such a technologically charged and plugged in society has made it difficult for us to fully disengage and unplug. What is at stake is the quality family time, rest and peace of mind. I recently was checking my email on a Saturday evening when I noticed that my department chair from work had emailed me about work related business. I did not respond, in that I decided this was not an appropriate time (especially that being the weekend, this would have taken me away from my family). I rechecked my email the following Sunday morning and noticed that the registrar had sent an email to my department chair also relating to work. I soon realized that we are living in a non-stop, plugged in society and, if I allow this, I can lose myself to others and work, subsequently losing touch with the things that personally matter – spending quality time with my children and wife, praying, reading a book or enjoying a picnic with my family. Are we in danger of giving ourselves over to other things because we allow ourselves to stay plugged in? Are we honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy?

[Dr. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins is Director of J.D.Institute and is a Professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA. He is the author of "Ecclesiastes" in the African Bible: Reading Israel's Scriptures through Africa and the African Diaspora (Fortress Press), 2009, and "Duty or Responsibility? The African American Evangelical's Identity" in the Journal of African American Christian Thought 1 (2009). Hopkins is available for preaching, lecturing, speaking or conducting workshops or seminars. You may contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .]

 

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