“But the seventh day is a Sabbath.” – Exodus 20:14
Going to worship every week? I doubt it. People in my congregation come every 2.4 weeks. Many have good reasons. “I need to do nothing but lie in bed this morning.” “I need to have a long breakfast with my partner and look at him.” These strike me as good Sabbaths.
The other reasons for spotty attendance are less endearing. “I have too much work to do.” “I can’t face my inbox.” “My house needs to be cleaned.”
What is the difference between the sacred reasons and the profane ones? One relaxes and uses time as Sabbath time. You empty. You don’t produce. You honor God’s intention to sacralize time. The other keeps you on the clock, as though you could ever satisfy its slavery.
Read this excerpt from Howling at the Noon by Paul Goodenough in “Creating an Open Space: Remodeling Midweek Worship”:
“A time to hear the bells ring, not as a way of keeping time, but as a way of reflecting on the ways that time keeps us. A time to put our secular popular sensibilities in perspective and hear all twelve tones. A time to locate one’s self in the middle of an impossibly long arc, without a clear trajectory. Sometimes in life, things fly by. But often, they are long. Today is going to be a long day. Writing a paper is long. Marriage is long. Watching for the arrival of the time of God is long . . . .”
Sabbath is the time when we remember that time is long and life is short.
Sabbath us, O God, and help us to relent from the clock’s slavery.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest book is Approaching the End of Life: A Practical and Spiritual Guide.