June 24, 2017
Tomorrow is Sunday, in most Christian communities, the day of rest. The commandment actually calls for the seventh day, Saturday, which Orthodox Jews and Seventh-Day Adventists and Baptists keep religiously. Sunday is really the day of Resurrection in which we celebrate the new life we have been given in Christ. It is resurrection, not rest, that identifies one as a Christian.
When I was growing up, the “Blue Laws” were commonplace all over the country. Stores closed, often restaurants were closed, it was difficult to even get a tank of gas if you were on a trip. You couldn’t go to a baseball or football game. And don’t even think about tippling at your local watering hole!
Nobody seems to know where the term “blue laws” originated, but they were real. Sundays were pretty sedate back then. Church was the only game in town, which is quite interesting when you consider that the commandment to observe the Sabbath really has nothing to do with Sunday. However, for Christians especially, I believe it is high time we revisited the Sabbath. If Sunday is the day we celebrate the saving activity of Christ, where do we create the space we need to observe the Third Commandment? We run ourselves ragged with all our activity, somehow imagining that God cannot function without us.
We Americans are particularly guilty of pushing the envelope of the created order. Ever since Mr. Edison blessed (or cursed) us with the electric light bulb, we don’t know enough to lie down and rest when darkness descends. Back before cable and satellite tv, the news came on at ten, and at eleven the national anthem signaled the conclusion of the broadcast day. Today, electronic media pulses forth its fluorescent glare from dusk till dawn. We have forgotten how to rest, and then wonder why people are always so uptight.
On the other hand, when quoting the Third Commandment, people often forget the second part of it, apart from which the first is unintelligible. “Honor the Sabbath day; keep it holy. Six days you shall work…”
If we don’t know how to rest, part of the problem is we don’t know how to work. Rest is meaningless apart from wearying labor. It is the work that makes the rest so inviting. Today, we laid bricks. An early morning call to grandson Nathan brought him excitedly pedaling his bike into our yard about ten minutes later. Ian showed up shortly thereafter, followed by Eliza. They all took turns operating the tractor, and Eliza is a master bricklayer. We had to quit about 1:00 so we could get ready to go to a graduation party, but when we got home, the bricks beckoned once again. A load of sand, a load of bricks, and another couple rows were laid. But now I am weary; just plain weary. And ready to rest. And worship tomorrow morning. Resurrection sounds good, and I am thankful to celebrate it tomorrow. But around here, the Blue Laws still apply; no bricks till Monday.