Over the next year, InterVarsity staff are intentionally practicing Sabbath together in ways that fit our unique roles, passions, ages, and stages. We’ll offer testimonies from current and former staff that help us all reenvision how we can engage in this important practice with joy and intention. Bethany Horvath, a Project Manager with InterVarsity whose church traditions include Non-Denominational (current), Presbyterian/USA, and Southern and American Baptist, starts us off.
I never heard the word Sabbath really until high school, and then equated it to the Jewish tradition of sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday evening with no work. Without realizing it, my parents had instilled within my family a Sabbath rhythm without actually talking about Sabbath. Growing up, Sundays meant attending church, eating a nice lunch together as a family and discussing what we had learned in Sunday school, taking a nap in the afternoon, attending church in the evening, and watching The Wonderful World of Disney on ABC. It was a routine our family did diligently. And little did I know how that routine would shape the rest of my life.
Sabbath for me now goes from sundown on Saturday to sundown on Sunday because I prefer to attend my church’s Saturday afternoon service. It ends around 6 p.m., and I find that this starts off my Sabbath on a spiritual note. As a creative person, my Sabbath involves items that draw me closer to the presence of God in creative ways. I know this type of Sabbath is not meant for everyone, but it works amazingly well for me. I spend Saturday afternoon strolling through my Pinterest boards of recipes to find something new to cook. Saturday after church I take my time grocery shopping for items the recipe calls for. Usually as I shop I find myself thanking God for his creativeness—the beautiful green artichoke with its unique shape, the ingenuity of those who develop different flavor profiles in sauces and spices, the flowers I see while shopping. While shopping, as a single woman, I often notice families and at times find myself admiring and praying for something similar one day, or thanking God that I’m not at that stage in life. It just depends on what God has been saying to me recently and what state of mood I’m in.
After shopping on Saturday evenings I usually spend time on the phone catching up with my family—talking for some time and hearing how life is, sharing what God is doing, what’s on our hearts, etc. The conversations during this time seem different than quick calls that happen in the week. There’s something deeper that happens and I find myself talking about deeper things.
My favorite Sabbath activity comes on Sunday. I sleep in, wake up, and make a leisurely breakfast and bask in cups of strong coffee. I lazily make my way to noon and start cooking the recipe I found the day before. Time in the kitchen is where I feel the closest to God during my Sabbath. Chopping up beautiful vegetables and stirring a sauce I created on the stove to finish a masterpiece I will enjoy all week long provides times of contemplation, listening, and sharing with God. I’ve started documenting these creations weekly on Instagram using the hashtag #sabbathrecipes as another form of giving thanks and sharing what God is doing in a larger community.
Sunday afternoon usually follows with a nap and early evening oftentimes includes partaking in a movie with friends, having someone over for dinner and conversation, or preparing myself for the week ahead with reflection and prayer.
This gift of Sabbath helps me prepare well for the week ahead. I notice that, when it’s observed well, I don’t come into the office Monday morning with dread or feelings of fatigue. It’s a gift that continues on after observing, and I’m grateful for how it helps me start my week recognizing God’s presence and beauty not only in my life, but all around me.