When do we rest?
What has happened to our society that people are compelled to work seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day?
I stand guilty of this charge. I’m writing this blog on a Sunday morning, the day of the week the Emperor Constantine decreed, in the year 321 C.E., would be a day of rest in the Roman Empire. In the Christian faith, Sunday is the commemoration of Christ’s resurrection and for many years, we literally took it as a day of rest, because businesses, shops, shops, and offices were all closed on Sunday. The Christian day of rest was placed next to the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday and we were given the weekend.
Why should we not rest?
We have scientific proof that when one is rested productivity goes up. Think of that next time you work seventeen hours straight and you can’t tell your left from your right, up from down.
I’ve never liked the idiom, “You snooze, you lose.” The way it’s applied in our culture is a reference to greed. Isn’t it possible that a job can be productive and successful if the person undertaking the task isn’t worked to death?
On the flip side of this coin is the tradition that the day of rest be used not for physical labor but for worship of God. In my faith, we remember the ministry of Christ and the early church as revealed to us in scripture. We remember the history and deeds, the words of the people of Israel from our lessons taken from the Hebrew scriptures. We enact Christ’s last supper with his followers with our own community and we celebrate his victory over death. We take this into the week along with the messages we receive from scripture and the fellowship shared at the table.
Jesus was taken to task for curing a woman of her crippling disease on the sabbath while in a synagogue teaching. Luke 13:10-17 (NRSV). No sooner was she healed than she began praising God, yet the leader of the synagogue criticized Jesus for performing this work as there were “six days on which work ought to be done.” Luke 13:14.
Once again, the message and ministry are revolutionary.
Jesus in deliberately disobeying the laws that he has honored and revered all his life; is showing that the sabbath is made for people, not the other way around. He is proclaiming the kingdom of heaven in our midst by showing an act of love. There is a time and place for everything. Even on a day of rest.
Take your rest, but when God calls on a sabbath, don’t hesitate to respond.