After church, someone in the circle brought up the age-old question, “So what are we allowed to do on Sunday anyway?”
Being a student requires me to read and to listen to lectures for many hours each week. What follows are not my own ideas – but a condensed version of reading from Peter Scazzero’s “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” and today’s lecture on creation by Dr. Wanner.
Work and Rest
To understand rest, we must understand work. God works for six days, creating a flawless (yet imperfect and incomplete) world. On day seven God is enthroned over all he has made, and he hands the work of creation completion over to us. With the charge of authority and creativity, we are told to keep creating and bringing order to the world – and in this God delights. Today, there ought be no distinction between “my job” and “God’s work.” Regardless of our occupation or position, Christians must approach their daily tasks as work to bring the world closer to completion. It is our purpose. The rest of the world does not participate in this sacred work, striving only towards their own gain. And from this good work we are also called to rest.
Scazzero writes about two ways in which God invites us to rest, the Daily Office and Sabbath keeping. These two practices are “an entirely new way of being in the world…[they are] ropes that lead us back to God in the blizzards of life.”
The Daily Office
The Daily Office might be different from your devotions in that it doesn’t fill you up for the day, so much as ground your being; it centers your focus on God. It is a time during the day set aside for the Lord, a time to be with him. There are monks who stop seven times a day to practice the Daily Office:
Vigils: 3:45 a.m. (middle of the night)
Lauds: 6 a.m. (predawn)
Prime: 6:25 a.m. (“first” hour)
Sext: 12:15 p.m. (“sixth” hour)
None: 2:00 p.m. (“ninth” hour)
Vespers: 5:40 p.m. (“evening”)
Scazzero encourages that we set our own time and length (anywhere from two minutes to forty-five minutes). “The great power in setting apart small units of time infuses a sacredness into the rest of my daily activities. The Daily Office, practiced consistently, actually eliminates any division of the sacred and the secular in our lives.”
This elimination of sacred and secular is something I long for. I want to grow into a frame of mind where every moment is holy, and I no longer see the work of God as separate from my daily tasks. This is what the Daily Office helps us do. “At each Office I give up control and trust God to run this world without me.”
To observe the Sabbath is not to rest our bodies in hope we will accomplish more in the long run. Sabbath is choosing to stop being productive, a rest where we lay down our work and trust our Father to provide what we need.
So what are we allowed to do on Sunday? Scazzero says, “Whatever delights and replenishes you.” Sabbath is about trusting God enough to stop being productive and taking time to delight. “Sabbath delight invites us to healthy play. ” After all, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
It’s also important to note that not everyone’s day of rest can be on the same day of the week. So we don’t have to feel guilty about forcing others to work. That is between them and God. Paul says, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.” (Romans 14:5-6).
I love how Scazzero compares Sabbath to a snow day. In the south, we get about one snow day every year. Everything stops – school is cancelled – work is cancelled – the plans you had are cancelled. And what do you do? You do whatever you want. You go out for a late breakfast with friends. You make a muddy snowman. You lay on the ground like a child and make angles. God offers us a snow day every week, even if July, if we’re up for it. It’s up to us to lean into to the concept, and it’s hard because the rest of the world never stops.
A snow day is a free day. There aren’t lists of things you cannot do. So I say, imitate your heavenly father. He moved from six days of work to enthronement and rest. Likewise, take a day to enthrone yourself on the ole armchair and put down the good work you’ve been doing. The snow soon melts, and Monday always comes around.