The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?” – Luke 13:15 (NIV)
Mark Twain once wrote, “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”
Jesus seems to suggest a similar idea: we should play at work and work at play. Choose to be happy at work, choose to play at it. Choose to work on the Sabbath if your ox or donkey needs a drink. Choose to understand your animals as holy and your worship practice as holy too. Don’t go phony or hypocritical about spirituality. Get real.
Laurie Santos teaches a popular course at Yale University, “Psychology and the Good Life,” on the science of well-being. Next year, Professor Santos is taking a one-year leave from the school:
“I teach my students about the importance of time affluence—feeling like you have some free time—and I simply wasn’t prioritizing that in my own life. If one of my Sillimanders [referring to Silliman College at Yale] had told me that they were feeling as time-famished as I have been these days, I would have demanded that they take something off their plate ASAP.”
Jesus seems to think that we may work on the Sabbath and rest at work. You might call it time feast, instead of time famine. You might call it taking a sabbatical because you don’t want to live starved any more. Give yourself a drink.
Grant us the gift of time affluence and time feast, Eternal God, and help us to turn off our alarm clocks. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Pastor at the Orient Congregational Church on the far end of Long Island, New York. Her newest book is Remove the Pews: Spiritual Possibilities for Sacred Spaces, from The Pilgrim Press.