Tilden Edwards is the founder and senior fellow of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Bethesda, Maryland. He is the author of many books including Living Simply Through the Day and Spiritual Director, Spiritual Companion. Upper Room Books has released this revised and updated edition of a spiritual formation classic about keeping the sabbath as an essential Christian practice.
Edwards begins with a description of the sabbath as an alternative to the drivenness of contemporary 24/7 culture. In both the Jewish and Christian traditions, this holy day anchors the rhythm of time. The author discusses the sabbath as a day of rest, a commemoration of liberation, a sign of covenant, and a sign of hope. Best of all, it offers a surcease from the pressures of achievement in the work arena and the mind-numbing escapism of so much contemporary entertainment. Edwards goes on to examine some the factors that have eroded this oasis in time, specifically individualism and a devaluation of the contemplative.
Sabbath time offers a release from our normal routines and work while also delivering us into a free space where reverence, play, laughter, a celebration of the arts, relaxation, and quiet contemplation take center stage. We especially like the following passage where Edwards salutes the value of intention and the Sunday morning service: "Corporate worship, in order to be its intended self, needs to be surrounded by a protective time zone, a time of preparation and reflection, of quiet openness with nothing to do except appreciate the presence of God in the smallest random thing in and around us. If this is done, then corporate worship is more likely to become a radiant crystal whose facets catch up all of life in God's light, placed in the midst of a velvet Sabbath bed that sets it off. Without such surrounding sabbath time, worship more likely will resemble an opaque rock that reveals nothing of life's giftedness and integrity in God, only our own rushed anxiety."
In four practical chapters, Edwards outlines how Christians can deepen their experience of the sabbath, stretching from dinner on Saturday evening through sundown on Sunday evening. He covers rituals, silences, readings, and blessings. This classic resource ably demonstrates how, as Edwards puts it, "an understanding and living of sabbath time can help support a sane and holy rhythm of life for us."