I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Exodus 20) On Sunday, we talked about this verse (and the rest of the assigned reading: Exodus 20: 1-17). In this one little verse, we get a peek into who God is and how God is faithful to us. God tells us that God is ours--that the relationship is already established (your God. The "your" is singular...meaning you--your God). And that we have already been delivered from slavery. We no longer work for Pharaoh.
Pharaoh is not our god.
Of course, we forget this in a heartbeat. All week long, we think we are slaves to our jobs and obligations so that when Sunday rolls around (or a day off)--we want to be free.
The word from God is this:
I brought you out of slavery. I already did that. You are free.
That inner committee—those voices in your head that tell you the opposite—those voices that say “produce, produce, produce ” the voices that say, “If you stop, if you rest, you are nothing.” The voices that cause all that anxiety---silence them. Say, “Get behind me Satan.” Say no.
We wear our exhaustion with pride. It's a trophy—our ability to withstand stress is a mark of real character. The busier we are-the more important we seem. We even say dumb things like: "Are you keeping busy?" As if that's a goal.
When in fact, the world aches for well-rested people.
When God stopped to rest, God did not show up to do more. God did not just check in on creation in anxiety to be sure it was all working. God has complete confidence that everything will do what's it's intended to do. That the world will hold. The plants will perform. The birds and fish and beasts of the field will prosper. All will be well. (So says Walter Brueggemann. So say we all.)
God, in whose image we are made, is not a workaholic.
God is not Pharaoh.
In fact, God rescued us from Pharaoh.
God does not keep jacking up production schedules.
God doesn't add another device with the false hope of being more efficient (lie).
When we stop production.
When we rest.
When we resist the urge to check in. To check email. To do just a little bit more.
When we stop—it is an act of faith.
It is an act of resistance.
It is absolutely counter cultural.
You want to keep church weird? Stop producing.
Maybe an entire sabbath day is a luxury that you cannot even imagine. Maybe you have such a patchwork of part time jobs and grad school and and and that 24 hours seems unfathomable. I understand that within Humble Walk, there are about 2 people with traditional 9-5 jobs. The rest are part time plus contract work. Or a mishmash of contract work. Which means, if you don't work--you don't eat.
So it is very tricky to talk about taking an entire day off.
Maybe then, it's a 2 hour block of time.
When we do,
We declare with our own bodies that we are not ruled by the god of anxiety.
We declare that we are not ruled by busyness.
By the pursuit of more.
We declare that we are not a commodity.
We are not a transaction.
Walter Brueggemann (theological hero, in Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now) says this:
The “other gods” are agents and occasions of anxiety. Be we, by discipline, by resolve, by baptism, by Eucharist, and by passion, resist such seductions. In so doing we stand alongside the creator in whose image we are made.
By the end of the six days, God had done all that necessary for creation...so have we.
Think about what kind of friend, neighbor, parent, citizen, student you are when you have had a bit of rest. If you are wondering what the church community has left to offer the world. If you have ever wondered how we as a church might meet a deep longing—something that nearly everyone in your life is aching for...it is permission to stop.
We are going to keep practicing in May, June and July. In August—I'll be gone on sabbatical so you can do whatever you want.
My friend Glenn says that practicing sabbath is like riding a bike. Talking about theories about riding or telling someone how to ride a bike is way, way different then putting your butt in the seat and your feet on the pedals and pushing off. It takes practice.
So, we are going to practice.