Friday, July 31, 2009

Community of Sabbath Rest

"...but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates." _Exodus 20:10
Sabbath rest is about more than just rejuvenation, getting ready to do more work. It's more than resting up for the task ahead. Sabbath is about identity. Sabbath is about remembering who we are, that our identity and indeed our value to God is maintained in a state of rest and that we are not machines to be valued by rate of production (even though our economic system is configure to such anthropology). The rhythm of work and rest invites us to tap our identity into the beauty of creation. If we do not learn to rest well, we will not be able to work well. Yes, we may produce well, but work is about more than production. Sabbath invites us to re-learn what good work really is. Sabbath invites us to work well, and to see our work as participation in the work of creation, not as a slave but as a gardener. Thus in the rhythm of work and rest we find the true rhythm of our soul. And we begin to see that this rhythm is not the rhythm of disconnected individuals finding their identity in static space but it is the rhythm of community and interconnectedness, the rhythm of solidarity.

There is a reason that in God's commandments the sabbath is explained the way it is. "On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates." Your sabbath isn't just for you. Your sabbath is for your children, your family, even for those who work for you. By entering into the sacred rhythm of sabbath you are not just freeing yourself from slavery to production and a distorted self-understanding, you are actually freeing others as well. When you rest, you free your family and those who depend on you--you offer them the gift of a free space to rest with you and to remember that you, and they with you, are not machines. When you refuse to live in this rhythm, you throw it off for those around you as well. You pressure them to struggle through life as you work and produce. You paralyze your community and your loved ones from the ability to enjoy their own rest and to rest in their identity with you. You deny them the comforting knowledge that the world will keep spinning if they stop working. Sabbath isn't just for you, the world doesn't revolve around you. The sabbath is for man, not man for the sabbath. God did not rest for his own good. God rested so that we would be free to rest. Therefore, following God's example, we rest so that others will be free to rest.

Sabbath is about a whole community remembering together that they, male and female, are made in the image of the God who rests so that his loved ones and those who depend on him might have the gift of a free space to enjoy their own rest. May we be the community of the God of sabbath rest.

2 comments:

The Thief said...

And our deciphering of Sabbath should also lead us to a better theology of God's provision for us and revolutionize the way we use money.

WES ELLIS said...

Theif,
Right on! It's true... if we took Sabbath seriously as a whole communiuty it would change our whole economy.