Meanings of the Sabbath for Worship in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church
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This study investigates the meanings and significance of the seventh-day Sabbath for worship in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In recent years, both the day and concept of Sabbath have attracted ecumenical attention, but the focus of scholarship has been placed on Sunday as the Lord's Day or Sabbath with little consideration given to the seventh-day Sabbath. In contrast, this project examines the seventh-day Sabbath and worship on that day from theological, liturgical, biblical and historical perspectives. Although not intended as an apology for Seventh-day Adventist practices, the work does strive to promote a critical and creative conversation with other theological and liturgical traditions in order to promote mutual, ecumenical understanding. Historical research into the origins and nature of the principal day for weekly Christian worship provides a starting point for discussion on Sabbath. Reconsideration of the relationship between Judaism and early Christianity in recent studies suggests that the influence of Judaism lasted longer than previously supposed, thereby prolonging the developmental process of Sabbath (seventh day) to Sunday. A possible coexistence of Sabbath and Sunday in early Christianity offers an alternative to perspectives that dichotomize Sabbath and Sunday from Christian antiquity onward, and thus for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, suggests biblical and historical validity for their Sabbath worship practice. Recent theological perspectives on Sabbath and Sunday are examined, particularly those of Karl Barth, Jürgen Moltmann and Pope John Paul II. While all three of these theologians stress the continuity of Sabbath and Sunday and speak mainly to a theology of Sunday, they do highlight the significance of Sabbath—which is relevant to an interpretation of seventh-day Sabbath worship. The study concludes that the seventh-day Sabbath is significant for worship in the Seventh-day Adventist Church because it symbolizes the relationship between God and human beings, reminds humanity of the creating and redeeming God who acts in history, and invites persons to rest and fellowship with God on a day sanctified by God.