Scripture: Leviticus 23:1-22
Key verses: (1-3) 1The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: These are the appointed festivals of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed festivals.
3Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work: it is a sabbath to the LORD throughout your settlements.
Reflection: What happened to the Sabbath? The day of rest, given as a good gift from God (not to mention a commandment) has largely disappeared from our culture. When I started ministry, people could remember when nothing much happened on Sundays other than church. They could recall long days after worship when their parents and grandparents and extended family all ate a big meal together, and spent time together that was different from other days. Some remember being bored, and not allowed to have much fun. Others remember playing with cousins or taking drives. With many activities paused, and stores closed, it was a day of forced rest. Sometimes the emphasis was on the word “forced”, rather than “rest.” I’m not sure everyone would have called it all good, especially the children.
I wonder, though, if today’s children can even understand the concept of Sabbath as rest. They don’t go to school on Sunday, but so many of them are on the go all weekend too. Sports schedules, even for the very young, have expanded to require travel and games on Sunday mornings. It makes worship with the church family difficult, and I know parents are conflicted about it. I don’t have a great solution for it. It’s not as easy as saying parents should just make worship a priority. All of us have given in to the Sabbath culture war in different ways. To be honest, the church contributes to it too, when we load up our Sunday schedule with meetings and events.
How do we honor God’s invitation to Sabbath rest, in today’s fast-paced environment? I’m not sure. I wonder about the phrase “holy convocation.” In Hebrew it seems to mean a “set apart time” when a called assembly of God’s people would practice and prepare for a future event (rehearse), or read God’s laws, (re-hear). Worship is one way to do that (I’ll even say the best one!) But I’m curious about other ways too. How can we honor God’s call to Sabbath rest and holy convocation in addition to Sunday worship? Not to replace it, but to supplement? May God grant us ears to hear the call to rest in this day and age.
Prayer: Lord, you have given us the gift of Sabbath. Help us honor it. Help us rest. Help us focus on you. In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].