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Happy Sabbath: Routine or Heartfelt?
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By Keith Hackle, Jr.

There is no way you can step into a Seventh-day Adventist Church between sunset Friday and sunset Saturday without being greeted with Happy Sabbath. Many of us have used the words since infancy. Some of us merely speak the words out of habit. Still others share the Sabbath greeting to simply fit in, whether they are happy or not.
 
Why We Say It
In recent months I have asked a number of my Adventist friends, “What do you mean when you greet people with Happy Sabbath? Is it a meaningful attempt to raise the spirit of the Sabbath, or is it a mere habit?”
 
Surprisingly, most of my Adventist friends admitted that it is a mere habit. Which has led me to two more equally important questions:
 
1.   Is Happy Sabbath a statement or a question?
2.   How does the sharing of this greeting determine the effect of the greeting?
 
More Than Just a Greeting
I believe that Happy Sabbath is both a statement and a question. I believe that every time we share the Happy Sabbath greeting, we affirm our appreciation for the gift of the Sabbath given by our Heavenly Father. Furthermore, every time we share the Happy Sabbath greeting, we express our ardent hope that our friends and guests at church will experience a Sabbath that is filled with all the love and joy God intends for them.
 
I also believe that Happy Sabbath is a question. It is not enough for us to simply extend a Happy Sabbath greeting with others. We must be genuinely concerned enough to inquire if those we meet are actually having a happy Sabbath, and to do our part to fill their day with genuine delight. When we pray with those who have had a tough week, when we invite people to share dinner with us, when we high-five people and smile – we can bring great happiness into their Sabbath experience.
 
More Than Vocabulary Building
Ten years ago I owned and operated a masonry construction company while pursuing a degree in business administration. Every day I met with a great variety of people. Some were vice presidents of global organizations, while others were partners in prestigious law firms. Most of them possessed extensive vocabularies which were used extensively in our conversations.
 
In an attempt to better connect with these people, I subscribed to a Word-of-the-Day program. Over the weeks I learned a number of amazing words which I put to work in my conversations with my clients. I quickly learned, however, that simply knowing the words is not enough – you have to know what they mean and how to use them appropriately to achieve my goals.
 
So it is in our Sabbath greetings – We must do more than simply mouth the words. We must greet everyone with a Happy Sabbath that is filled with joy and attentiveness. When we do that, the Happy Sabbath greeting will be more than a mere routine. It will become a truly Happy Sabbath experience.
 
More than Mere Routine
God desires for us to recognize the Sabbath as more than a “mere routine”. Isaiah 58:13,14 proclaims “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
 
God’s Sabbath invitation here is not only for the church family as a whole, it is also an individual call to action. As you may have noticed, the second person (you, your, yourself) is used 10 times. Thus we are not only invited to experience happy Sabbaths, but to share happy Sabbaths with fellow believers and guests at church. When we embrace this opportunity, we will move beyond routine greetings to the realm of truly happy Sabbaths.
 
Keith Hackle, Jr. is a seminary student at Andrews University