Editor’s Note: the following was shared during discussion on an amendment to the Church Manual about Sabbath keeping at the 2022 GC Session and appears here courtesy of the speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This portion of the manual shares some guiding principles for Sabbath keeping. I believe that this is a good thing, but I wonder if the committee would give future consideration to expanding its scope a bit.
Just a few verses before the cited passage in Isaiah 58, the Bible says this in verse 6: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6 ESV).
In my mind’s eye, I fast forward and see Jesus citing these very words in Luke 4—setting at liberty the oppressed as he announced the beginning of his earthly ministry in his hometown of Nazareth on the Sabbath.
There have been some comments made on the floor about Adventist heritage and social justice, and I’ll just say that an honest reading of our church’s history would reveal that several of our pioneers were advocates for equity and justice and sought to set at liberty the oppressed.
In this way, these pioneers modeled for us the way of Jesus as revealed to them and us in Scripture, for on the Sabbath, Jesus declared his desire to seek justice and save the lost.
Friends, I believe that our keeping of the Sabbath should be more than just about how we enter into a 24-hour period of rest but also prompt us to consider who we are bringing rest to? Who is experiencing liberation, healing, and harmony as a result of our Sabbath keeping? This too is the call of us Adventists.
Sabbath keeping can look like volunteering for prison ministries—not to proselytize but to truly see a fellow human.
It can look like going to a march and declaring that my life matters.
It can also look like telling an LGBTQ+ friend or loved one that they are image bearers who deserve our love and protection.
My mission lenses are on. The Bible is clear. It is good for men and women to seek equity and justice on the Sabbath, and I urge the committee to discuss how to articulate this biblical truth in our Church Manual.
Michael T. Nixon, Esq., is vice president for University Culture and Inclusion and chief diversity officer for Andrews University.
Title image: the author speaks on the floor of the 2022 GC Session. Photo by Pieter Damsteegt / North American Division.
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