Excerpt from Isaiah 58:13-14
"If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day… then you shall take delight in the Lord."
Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver
Recently I sat next to a man at the movies who spent the entire time working with his Blackberry hand-held computer and then sending text messages on his cell phone. Occasionally, he would look up at the big screen, but then he would bow his head to the tiny screens in his lap. Obviously, he had taken to heart the slogan from an ad campaign: "Now anyplace can be your workplace."
At first I was a bit annoyed, but then I came to have something like sympathy for the man because his behavior had the look and feel of addiction. More and more it seems as if we are addicted to busyness. It starts with alluring promises ("you will save time," "you will have more freedom"). Eventually, however, there is no pleasure in it. We feel trapped. Even though we may begin to sense, "This is not good for me," we no longer see a way out. We are stuck in patterns we didn’t exactly choose and don’t know how to change.
A friend of mine, speaking of the time she was a pastor, says she felt that she had to make herself available at any hour, every day of the year. Laughing at herself, she said, "There used to be a time when only God was that important."
It is precisely the reminder that "only God is that important" that is the basis of the practice of keeping Sabbath. When we stop working for a time we can see that the world does manage very well without us. The sun still shines. The tides still ebb and flow. We are fed. We are not indispensable, but we are valued nonetheless. It is good to have that reminder on occasion. In fact, it is essential.
God, I confess to you the sin of perpetual busyness. Please slow me down, make me pause, help me to receive the gift of peaceful rest. Amen.
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the author, with Lillian Daniel, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.