Messages of Hope
March 27, 2020
Exodus 20: 1; 8-11
20Then God spoke all these words:
8 Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9For six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
When I started practicing law in 1983, I worked for a firm that billed by the hour. That was our “stock in trade” – the billable hour. A billable hour was time we spent working on client files. If we were not working on client files, the hour was not billable, and so unproductive. Unproductive time was wasted time. The thought of “wasted time” drives me to be busy and productive all the time. And when I am not busy and productive, I feel guilty and anxious.
But it’s not just about work, right? Friday night is high school athletics. Saturday morning is Betsy’s soccer game. After that we need to mow the lawn and do the yard work. Billy has his baseball game in the afternoon. We have to stop at the store on the way home to get food for the week. Now we have to clean the house. Drive the kids all over town. Then we have to do the laundry, pay the bills, and call or visit our parents. Maybe a few random hours to relax before we get ready to go back to work.
That is not the way it is supposed to be. That is not what God Commands. God commands that every 7th day, we are to give ourselves a break.
9For six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work…
Sabbath is a time where we observe the cosmic order.
Patrick Miller and Jon Levinson describe it this way in their book ion the Ten Commandments:
[B]iblical law … is of the same order as the laws of nature, the inner mechanism of creation. … The keeper of the Sabbath thus brings one’s life into harmony with the intrinsic rhythm of the cosmos, instituted by divine fiat and observed [first] by God.
The rhythm of the cosmos. I like that one. God rests on the seventh day. So should we.
Maybe we should look at our current “lock down” as a kind of Sabbath. Maybe we are getting the opportunity to make some back payments on ignored sabbaths past. What do you do on sabbath? You get away from feverish productivity. You slow down and take in things that have been set aside. Sleep late. Read a good mystery. Watch some old shows you forgot about. Call a friend. It’s OK. Really, it is.
What would Jesus do? More about that in two days.