Tuesday, March 31, 2009
KEEPING SUNDAY IN THE MODERN AGE
What do you do on Sunday? Do you and your family dress up in your best clothes and attend church on Sunday morning?
Do you enjoy lingering to visit with your fellow parishioners after the service?
Perhaps on nice days the grown-ups chat while the children play outside?
Do you have a big Sunday dinner with the whole family,
followed by a lovely nap, or a Sunday drive?
Perhaps you take a walk to the park and linger over a good book on a park bench.
All of the foregoing activities give honor to our Lord on His day, while giving us our much needed rest and break from the routine. Human beings were designed with a built-in requirement for intermittent rest; those who try to exercise seven days a week reap diminishing returns on their fitness, for example. And psychologically, a seven day work week will eventually unravel one's psyche; even the thought of it unravels mine!
Yes, God is so serious about us using our Sabbath to worship Him and to rest from our work routine that He made it one of the Ten Commandments! So, as Christians do we faithfully follow the Sunday admonitions, and in so doing, set ourselves apart from the World?
Or does Sunday revolve around this??
That's a bit more realistic, isn't it? I think this is so because most all the homemakers are out of the house all week at work. When I started working full-time I caught myself getting extremely irritated when a young family, friends of my oldest son, stopped by unannounced on the weekend. I had X amount of time to shop, clean, and do yard work, and I panicked at the thought of having to just STOP and entertain company! The young people had no idea that they were a huge inconvenience because in the past I had always been home, cooking, dabbling in something interesting or just relaxing (dirty word, sorry) and would be glad to have company to visit with and ply with food and drink!
Wow. What a revelation. These new, palpable feelings of annoyance and stress really upset me. So this is what life is like for the vast majority of Americans in this day and age. Living by the stop watch, under the gun, and prioritizing life to the point where it loses its soul. I decided one thing.
I don't like it and I'd rather have to go without some stuff in order to live life at a reasonable pace, with meaning and purpose. Yes, I said I would rather go without some stuff and be considered weird or lazy, and still have time to build and maintain home, relationships and family. And of course to give the Lord His due on a Sunday (and one hopes, all days). Am I a Christian or not?
Speaking of Christians and Sundays, even we can uphold the form of things while scamming a bit. How many of us cannot wait to get through the service so we can head out to Panera's for lunch, get to the Sunday afternoon movie matinee, or otherwise engage in some kind of buying activity which requires someone else to labor on Sunday for our benefit? Or run by Walmart or the grocery store to pick up that little something that we really need that day, when if we had planned a bit better or at all we could have bought it on Saturday?
Is this being nit-picky? Legalistic? Judgmental? Condemning? After all, even Jesus rebuked the Jews for accusing Him of working on the Sabbath by healing the man with the withered hand, or disapproved of his hungry disciples plucking grains of wheat to eat as they walked through a field.
In Luke 14:15, KJV, Jesus is quoted as saying " . . . Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?".
Well, in my own humble estimation, I think the Lord was saying we must never put the sabbath rest above doing what is good (e.g., healing, rescuing) or necessary (e., eating to keep up our health and strength). God is all about common sense. But we must not give ourselves permission to take these truths and run with them to the point that we start rationalizing ourselves right out of Sunday. Keeping Sunday sacred is the rule to which there exist a few exceptions. But it is the rule, nevertheless, and one of the TEN BIG ONES, right up there with "Thou shalt not murder".
In the next post, I hope to develop a few ideas about how we can take back Sunday as for the Lord in ways that make sense for the times in which we live.