Once upon a time, way back in the 1970s, I worked in a warehouse. It was a non-union shop in Florida, low wages, hard work and people pretty much stuck. I was between college and seminary. It did not take long to see the patterns of these laborers. They worked strictly by the clock. They had to clock in on time and they definitely wanted to clock out on time. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. And you know what comes on Friday: TGIF.
People did and do work for the week-end. I’m going to skip over the long battles in this country for worker’s rights and how so many today take for granted that they get a week-end or work a 40 hour week instead of seven days, sun-up to sun-down. This pattern is what I am focused on, how living for the week-end is ingrained in people’s lives. People are always looking to get across the finish line on Friday and begin the week-end. And then they push their stone back up the hill again starting Monday.
There is another pattern available to us. There is a way to break through the maze of work and and mindless binges in a haze of drugs, drinking or shopping. That pattern is called keeping the Sabbath. Whether or not you strictly adhere to the biblical notion of Sabbath beginning on sunset Friday to sunset Saturday or you simply block Sunday out and make time for worship, doing so provides remarkable gifts. I’ll list a few (there are many more!):
*You are not working but resting and acknowledging the Creator who also sustains the world. And you are remembering this God who is Holy and Just expects us to live holy and just lives, so in that regard, you participate in a primal counter-cultural protest and are liberated into a joyful and satisfying life.
*You are being reminded that you cannot do it all and are not expected to save the world and all of its problems. What you are required to do is walk justly and act mercifully and do your best to alleviate some small amount of suffering in your corner of the universe (I’m paraphrasing Albert Schweitzer with that last phrase).
*You are creating a covenant with others to care for one another and our world. What results from this –week in and week out– is communal discourse or community. This is one of the greatest antidotes to not only loneliness but our struggle with our own identity. When you lose yourself inside a covenantal community you end up gaining your life and an identity that can sustain you when you enter back into the work-a-day world.
Many of us are struggling in this madness of an administration that seems hell bent on turning its back on middle America, poor Americans, sick Americans, aging Americans. I really do believe that the way to peace is peace, the way to justice is justice. Introduce a new pattern or revive the pattern of Sabbath rest in your life. Find a communal discourse and live at the center of it.
~See you Sunday.