Interfaith Sabbath Keeping

Interfaith Sabbath Keeping
Fred and I at the Krishna Ballaram Mandir (temple) in Vrindavan, India, for our interfaith honeymoon.

What is Sabbath?

Depending upon our contexts, we all have different ways of defining Sabbath. For some, it is a day of rest, for others, a day of worship, ritual, and study. For others still, it is a day of strict unplugging–of stripping away all that distracts us from the divine.

For Fred and me, it’s a day of togetherness with one another and with God. We spend intentional time in worship, study, and prayer. It is a day of nurturing our individual and collective faith journeys while supporting one another’s chosen path. It all sounds quite zen and tidy, but it took us a long while to discover what works best for our interfaith household.

View from the gate of a temple that sits on Vrindavan's parikrama. This photo reminds me of how narrow our vision can be when we gaze out onto the world from our church gates.

Practically speaking, it looks like this: Christian worship (Eucharist, Rite II) at a local Episcopal church or a service at the Baptist Church, followed by Hindu darshan (worship) at the local Vishnu temple. We try to keep both worship services just minutes and miles apart, so that they become fused together into one morning of divinity and less divided by category.

The rest of the day is spent discussing the sermons we heard, reading Scripture references, walking, biking, and usually cooking a vegetarian meal or two. Towards the end of the day, I write while Fred listens to a lecture (sermon) from his guru or looks up more Scripture on the Veda Base, a large archive of Vedic Scriptures. Throughout the day, on our walks or bike rides or while preparing a meal, we wrestle with the theological issues that come to the forefront. Sometimes we are each on opposite ends of the spectrum, but most of the time, we find common ground.

The key to our interfaith Sabbath keeping is rooting the day in love. Frustrations and differences become much less divisive when you approach them from the standpoint of gratefulness for having a partner with which to share this unique journey.

Do you live in an interfaith household? If so, how do you handle Sabbath keeping? If you don’t live in such a household, how do you imagine you would approach such a circumstance?


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