The idea of regular time off finds its roots in the bible, and is offered by God not as a suggestion, but as a commandment.
Summer is fully upon us. We’ve had one long hot spell, and are now smack in the middle of another one. If we are blessed with meaningful and rewarding work, hopefully we are also blessed with vacation time. Many of us are also blessed with weekends or other days off. All of this is a fairly recent development in the history of human civilization and labour. Much of the credit must go to the churches and also to unions. Ultimately, though, credit and thanks must go to our Jewish sisters and brothers and most especially to the one God, loving Creator, who is the object of our worship and adoration, and, hopefully, the focus of our lives and our life together.
The idea of regular time off from work finds its roots in the biblical books of Exodus (20.8-11) and Deuteronomy (5.12-15), and is offered by God not as a suggestion, but as a command(ment): Shabbat, or sabbath rest. Ancient, and not-so-ancient, societies had no such customs, including European society; it was only in the modern age that first part of a day, then a whole day, and finally a ‘weekend’, became reality for most working people. Of course, in other parts of the world, and more and more again in our own, where people can’t make enough on one job, regular time off is only a dream.
It is God’s desire that we get enough rest and relaxation.
Part of God’s desire is also that we use some of that time for worship in community.
It is God’s desire, for all, including animals in service to people, that we get enough rest and relaxation. Part of God’s desire is also that we use some of that time for worship in community, but as Christians in society we have to recognize also, always, that people deserve fair return for their labour (cf. Deut. 24.14-15; Jer. 22.13; Mal. 3.5; Rom. 4.4), which, in the eyes of God includes regular time off work. Those of us who have it, including the retired who have enough to live with dignity, if not in luxury, give thanks to God for yet another expression of that amazing grace which is revealed so clearly in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.
Enjoy your holidays, those weekends at the lake, regular days off, relaxing evenings, however your sabbath comes and however you take it, but give thanks always to God for every good and perfect gift, for gift it is, one our ancestors dared not dream about and did not have. Oh, and one other thing, which our ancestors did know: Church is still on, every Sunday, all summer long, here at the Cathedral, but also in other churches, Anglican or Lutheran or whatever, pretty much everywhere your summer travels may take you. “Worship the Lord with gladness; come into God’s presence with singing!” (Ps. 100.2)