Campus Bible study promotes sabbath rest and rejuvenation

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Campus Bible study promotes sabbath rest and rejuvenation

Matthew Postma

Matthew Postma

Matthew Postma

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Campus Ministries focuses on intentional rest this semester in the campus-wide Bible study “Sabbath.” The study looks at different aspects of successful sabbaths and encourages participants to intentionally take part in sabbath celebration.

Pastor Joella, associate chaplain of upperclass students, reflects on sabbath-keeping in her own life saying, “I craved it since I was a college student but I never thought I could afford to take a day of rest.” She remembers when Calvin College used this bible study in 2015, recalling that the students she worked with often kept the sabbath regularly, even better than she did.

The atmosphere at Calvin College, Pastor Joella noted, isn’t always conducive to sabbath participation. She notes, “There’s individual, but there’s also cultural and systemic measures that need to be taken.”

She specifically pointed to faculty and staff to set the pace by which students live. “No tests on Monday because that means people will have to study on Sunday.”

The study looks at ways to help participants “cease” from business and “rest” from work, but also looks at the acts of “embracing” God’s restoration and partaking in “feasts” which remind us of God’s goodness.

The curriculum refers to the books “Keeping the Sabbath Wholly” by Marva Dawn, and “Subversive Sabbath” by A.J. Swoboda. Pastor Joella says that “A.J. Swoboda is more of a storyteller in his telling about sabbath. Marva Dawn is more didactic and straight-forward.”

The study opens with an excerpt from Exodus 20, when the sabbath is described in the Ten Commandments. Pastor Joella stated, “Sometimes people will think that’s the part of the deuteronomical law that Christians don’t need to observe anymore, but there’s no other part of the Ten Commandments that we’re like, ‘We don’t need to observe that anymore.’”

When asked about the effect she hopes this study will have, Pastor Joella replied that “The hope is that people in our community receive it as an invitation… to rest.”

“I think most of us crave rest,” Pastor Joella remarked. “If you don’t think you need the Sabbath, I would argue that you’re wrong.”

Resources to participate in the campus Bible study can be found under the Campus Ministries page of Calvin’s website.