“It took an exodus of a whole nation to establish the Sabbath God commanded. All I’m asking is that we talk about how to connect to those of us whose lives have no Sabbaths other than the ones they find away from us on Sunday morning.”Simply, could it be that by worshipping as we do, busying ourselves as we do, filling our spare time with fitness and leisure activities as we do, and – the kicker – valuing progress and growth as we do we are more like Pharaoh and the Egyptians than Moses and the Israelites?
Pharaoh was the one who demanded 7 days of labor. Egypt was the place away from which Israel had to escape in order to find the Sabbath God expected. It was in a wilderness, through a period of paradigmatic change, with the commandments -- including the one calling Israel to remember the Sabbath and to keep it holy -- that the people became possessors of the land God had promised.
Maybe there is something we can learn from those of us who are away most Sunday mornings. If their experience is anything like the one had by Moses and the Israelites then they know the value of the wilderness, and change, and Sabbath. Maybe they know something about how the bread of anxiety gets replaced by the manna God provides. Maybe they understand that without real rest away from anything-that-needs-the-preposition-“up”-in-its-name, life is captive to a system of always measuring, always dressing, always showing, always catching.
Maybe they just are ahead of us, not away from us.
Sabbaths are moments to end our achieving for a rest in the confident trusting of God’s promises. Without our Sabbaths we are prone to confuse enthusiasm for holiness and quantity for quality. Sundays are moments to know that God’s promises – of a new land or a new life – are being fulfilled and without them we would miss the holy rehearsal of being raised “up.”
I need to say that I am not upset. I am happy to make our Sunday mornings as much as possible little Easter sunrise services. I need to say that I am not disappointed in anyone. I am thrilled when the house is full or I see you at the store. I need to say that I am not worried. I am confident in our ability to leverage the opportunities God continues to present us.
I hope I haven’t scared anyone, or offended anyone, or made anyone to feel unfairly scrutinized. I hope I have named an important distinction that need not separate Sunday from Sabbath but may be a new way to see them connected to each other. And I hope I have recognized the huge potential bound up in and expressed through the spiritual lives of all our members on Sunday and in Sabbath.