During Sunday's sermon, I argued that Sabbath-breaking is more common than Sabbath-keeping. Even at church, we talk about our afternoon plans to clean the house or head to the grocery store. While the other nine commandments are held in high regard, we have dispensed Sabbath-keeping as unnecessary for the flourishing of life. But is this true?
A number of years ago I was in St. Jean, Quebec taking my basic military training course. Part of the course was aimed at inculcating military culture and values. The course was also aimed at stretching our own understanding of what we could accomplish both collectively and as individuals. The latter was emphasized during the field portion of the course. We spent about five days in the bush running continual exercises with very little sleep. I came out of this training realizing that I could survive on three hours of sleep. Now back at home, I don't continue living on this schedule. While I'm happy to know that I can do it, I also know that this isn't optimal for day-to-day living (and that it would ruin me after a week!)
Over the years I've run into many individuals and families that run their lives like a military operation. They pursue a wide variety of 'good' goals that keep them moving every moment of the week: piano lessons, team sports, volunteer work, all the while keeping up a home with two full-time jobs. While many wear this busyness like a badge of honour and can rattle off their most recent success, I also hear these people lament the pace of life. Could it be that those activities, which in themselves are individually honourable and good, are collectively conspiring to make these people slaves? The trouble with slavery is that after spending time in bondage you eventually forget to know what it is like to be free.
But this is where the Sabbath can help us.
In addition to providing us with a break from the daily grind of our pursuits and labours, Sabbath-keeping provides a vantage point from which to assess the busyness of our routines. Experiencing a weekly day of freedom gives us the perspective to recognize that our calendars are too full and that we need to be proactive in cutting back.
Do you need to plan for a true Sabbath this week?