I can remember a time when we rested on Sundays. Stores were closed. Mom didn’t clean the house or do laundry or yard work. I remember being allowed to play solitaire (with an actual deck of cards), but I wasn’t supposed to tell Grandma about it.
I don’t remember knowing why we did or didn’t do things on a Sunday. It was just a part of our culture, a part of what I was taught by my family. Sunday was an important day, a day different from other days.
Of course, part of what made Sunday different was Dad’s role as the preacher. He was down at the church before we even got up on a Sunday morning. We saw him at church in his preacher role. But after church, he was Dad again. We had a big Sunday dinner, and then Dad had a Sunday afternoon nap before heading back to church for evening services or youth group.
As I was preparing for this issue, I was astounded at how far away from this culture I’ve strayed. For the most part I don’t do a lot of resting; Sabbath is missing from my current life. About the only thing I can still find is the ritual of the Sunday afternoon nap … but even that sometimes gets pushed aside for something more strenuous.
The weekends are full of the activities and chores that don’t get done during the work week. After church on Sundays I’m often finishing the chores that didn’t get done on Saturday. My “rest” activities tend to be projects like updating my blog, organizing a closet or pulling weeds in the garden.
Even when I do get to my Sunday afternoon nap, my motivation is to rest up for the coming week. I’m struck by Abraham Heschel’s words, “The Sabbath as a day of rest is not for the purpose of recovering one’s lost strength and becoming fit for the forthcoming labor.” I’m called — commanded, even — to honor the Sabbath, to rest, because on the seventh day God rested.
So I’m entering this topic with quite a bit of humility, a giant confession, and a lot of things to learn about how I can weave this important action (non-action?) back into my life. Those whose jobs have them working on Sundays have to be especially creative about finding rest, carving out Sabbath times. But, I suspect, all of us have a lot to learn about how to honor the Sabbath in our frantic, 24/7 world.
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by this topic, know that you are not alone. I’m right there with you. We’ll be trying to figure it out together. Talk with others in your family or faith community about your
struggles. If you are one who feels comfortable in virtual community, join us in our discussions or our Facebook page to share your challenges and your progress. I look forward to seeing you there.
May you linger with family or friends over Sunday dinner, feel the presence of the Spirit in a walk in the park, or rest in God’s loving arms during a long, Sunday nap.
P.S. We’re excited to announce the digital edition of Alive Now. Subscribers to the digital edition get the same material as in print, plus audio, video, and links. You can read the new Alive Now on your iPhone, iPad, Android, desktop, or laptop. Learn more here.