A Sabbath Rest – Rev. Philip Payne
‘Six Days thou shalt Labour, and do all thy work: the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord Thy God, in it thou shalt not do any work…. ‘ (Exod: 20:10, Deut: 5:14,15)
Like thousands of people, our holiday plans for 2020 have not worked out. What is the point of taking holiday if we can’t go away? That set me thinking and now we are taking a short break. By the time you receive this the Rectory office will be closed.
As I am sure many of you know only to well, when you live ‘over the shop’ it’s difficult to switch off and lock the office door. There is always something to do and it’s tempting to pop in and do just a little. Recent events have underlined how dependant we all are on work; ours and other peoples. Work gives purpose and status, work provides income and essential services, work provides a framework and rhythm to life. When it stops we are at a loss. Yet work can also be exhausting, demeaning, enslaving.
Whatever our work, and wherever we conduct it, time out matters. We don’t need to go far or spend much, we do need to switch off. In the long run our physical and mental health depend on it. Rest, daily, weekly, holidays, are all part of the rhythm of life.
The clue is in the name. Holiday stems from Holy Day, a day set aside for worship and celebration. In the beginning God laboured for 6 days, then took the day off – and instructs us to do the same. It’s not just a weekly sabbath. At the seven-year point Israel was instructed to leave the land fallow, and on the 50th year (7 times 7 years plus 1) slaves were freed, debts remitted (Lev: 25). The Sabbath rest is for all creation. Modern life is complex and doesn’t all fit into a rigid cycle of seven, but then neither did life for the ancients. Remember how Jesus ran into criticism for healing on the sabbath. Whatever the detail, the principle stands, God ordains a cycle of life that includes a time of rest.
As we need rest, so does everyone else. Just as lock-down has meant an enforced break for many, many others have been working much harder than normal. It can be difficult to respect the needs of others when we don’t acknowledge our own needs. Remember Jesus said ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” So, with that closing thought in mind, now we have taken a break.
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