Guys, I’m sorry to be out of touch, but I’ve been blogging sporadically at the Methoblog on my experiences at the United Methodist General Conference.
It’s Sunday morning, and I’ve just finished walking around downtown Pittsburgh, and am waiting for a call from some friends to go to brunch. All around me were United Methodists of all stripes in their Sunday best heading to this service, or that church. I suppose I should have attended church this morning, but after a week of church immersion, I needed some time to decompress.
May that is what sabbath is all about — the need to decompress after being deep in the waters of life. God was certainly deeply involved in the act of creation, shouting words over hear and splashing matter across the void over there. Creating is difficult, time consuming, exhausting. Like God, we too are involved in the act of creating life everyday. This has nothing to do with reproducing the species, but rather recognizes that everything we do, every decision we make, every word that comes from our mouths is an act of creation. We speak, or act, or think, and the world changes a bit. As co-creators with God, the cumulative history of the world is a painting that is constantly changing. God may have a rough draft of where it’s headed, but the painting itself is always evolving and layer after layer after layer of paint is added.
This act of creating through living is as demanding as the act of creating the cosmos, and that is why God said that rest — sabbath — is important. When we fail to exercise sabbath in our lives, we are in fact saying that we are superior to God, that even though our creator needed rest, we don’t. God, immersed in the stuff of creation, needed to decompress, to chill, to sit in the easy chair and enjoy the fruits of His/Her labor. We too must understand that we likewise need the time to lay back in the arms of God and appreciate that which God has allowed us to participate in.
The hard part is figuring out the church’s role in all this. For church often ceases to be a place of sabbath and can easily become a place of obligation and duty. The Protestant work ethic which states that value is found in production undermines the notion of sabbath. Instead of being a place of feasting in the beloved community, it becomes a duty we have to attend to.
Somehow, and I don’t really know how, we have to find the place of sabbath in the midst of the creative act we call church. The beloved community must have some sense of rest and peace and renewal in the midst of gathering. Without that, we perpetuate the sin that leads folks to think that sabbath is a meaningless waste of time.