Tues Quote - Eugene Peterson - If you don't take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You're doing too much, you're being too much in charge. You've got to quit, one day a week, and just watch what God is doing when you're not doing anything.
Tues Thought -
It seems as if many generally believe that they cannot afford to rest. There is just too much to do. I agree. There is much to do. And the thought of leaving things undone (laundry, yard-work, housecleaning, etc) in order to observe Sabbath and simply rest, is, well, unthinkable. But what if we flipped this and asked, can we really afford NOT to get enough rest? According to a study published in 2012, 30% of the civilian workforce in the U.S. was not getting an adequate nights sleep. And the thing is this doesn't mean that we simply go to work and (as my wife would put it) ride the struggle bus for the day. This has real impact. 20% of car crashes are due to drowsy driving. Inadequate rest has a direct connection to work-related injury and work-related illness. Lack of rest causes real injury to ourselves and others, not to mention that it is expensive. Lack of adequate sleep has also been tied to an increased risk for diabetes and obesity. So again I ask, can we afford NOT to get our rest? Are our lifetimes as adults spent avoiding rest to mow the lawn or get one more project done, worth the risk of injury or illness to ourselves or others?
The Pharisees are focused, some might suggest preoccupied, with observing Sabbath correctly. It is of vital importance to them that they and all of Israel get Sabbath absolutely right. It is important because observing Sabbath is one of the ways that Israel can maintain unity and communal pride as they live under the oppression of the Romans. Romans wanted and did all that they could to entice Judeans to be 'more Roman.' To be more Roman would be to abandon Israel's identity as God's chosen. So observing Sabbath was incredibly important. It was also vital because, these Pharisees believed, God's blessing and God's liberation from oppression was contingent upon correctly observing Sabbath. In Isaiah 56 the prophet writes, 'Maintain justice and do what is right for soon my salvation will come and my deliverance be revealed.' In the next verses the prophet reveals that the root of justice and right is Sabbath observance. So many interpreted this to mean that deliverance was contingent upon correctly observing Sabbath. Deliverance, ultimately, was up to them. They had to earn that deliverance. I look at this and see an error. The deliverance is not caused by correctly observing Sabbath, the deliverance is present IN KEEPING Sabbath. Sabbath is a part of the deliverance. Deliverance is not a result. But I can understand why some would draw the conclusion that to be delivered, Israel would need to get Sabbath right.
This error is just what Eugene Peterson highlights in our quote for the day, 'you're being too much in charge.' Sole responsibility for deliverance fell to Israel. They need to earn deliverance. But deliverance is not earned. It is a grace, a gift. Living either overly focused on getting Sabbath absolutely right OR not observing Sabbath at all because we have too much to do, are both rooted theologically in fear and anxiety. We are afraid that God is angry or has abandoned us so we must earn God's love. OR, we are afraid that we will not have enough, will lose control of our lives, will become vulnerable or that someone will take what we have, so we dare not observe Sabbath. We must continue to earn, procure and protect because our security is up to us alone. Both sides of the spectrum are based in fear and anxiety. Fear and anxiety make us small. They make us distrustful. They divide us. They can even compel us to be violent. Sabbath then, is an antidote to fear, anxiety and violence. Sabbath is reminder that life, all of life, including what he have and the security we feel is a gift. It is a gift that comes from a source that is always abundantly creating and giving. This is why Jesus observes Sabbath by feeding and healing. Sabbath is a day to celebrate the abundant goodness of God, the wanton creativity of God. We rest so that we remember that who we are and what we have comes from God. We need not fight to procure nor fight to defend. We can rest because we trust in God to provide.
Tues Study: Isaiah 56
Tues Prayer: Still my mind and still my body Lord of the Sabbath. Turn my thoughts to gratitude for what you have provided. In these Sabbath moments, free me from fear and anxiety and allow me to relax into the experience of being your beloved. Then, as I rise to go into the day, allow me to take this peace and rest with me, so that I can be the shelter in a time storm for someone else.