The Lord’s Day/Sunday as Sabbath (Part 2): Sabbath as Rhythm

This is a series of blog posts by pastor Andrew Vander Maas from Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship in St. Louis.  These posts were first written a few years ago on a blog that no longer exists, and we are resurrecting them at Worship Is Central.

To see the whole series, click on the Lord’s Day category link on the sidebar on this page, which is found here.  For more resources on the Lord’s Day (Sunday), see the Lord’s Day page at Worship Is Central.

“Come on and get a rhythm  …” sings Johnny Cash.  In many ways rhythm is one of the first things that we are to notice about the Sabbath and the way that it operates in our lives … it provides structure to our week, our months, our years.  In the opening salvo’s of Genesis we see the idea of rhythm emerging rather clearly.  God worked six days and he rested one day – a rhythm established.   There was morning and evening, a day, another Rhythm.  And on it goes (night/day, lunar cycles, seasons, etc…)

Going on we see that the weekly Sabbath along with special “Sabbaths” or feast days were to provide a rhythm for the life of the Israelite nation.  The Israelites were not to work all of the time, they were to rest, they were to feast, they were to make merry.  This it seems is an important thing for us to discover as humans, appropriate rhythms or seasons of our lives.  This is something that the writer to Ecclesiastes discovers in his quest for the meaning of life:

3:For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time todie; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;  3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;  5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;  7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.  

Rhythms are important for us to pay attention to, and we neglect them at our own peril.   Think of the light bulb.  No other invention has change the way we live more than the invention of the light bulb and the ready availability of electricity.  Now how many of us go through days and weeks tired because we don’t allow our bodies to get the rest they need.   We stay up late, with the aid of artificial light, and read, work whatever. A natural rhythm is disrupted.  The same thing is true in terms of our week.  If we neglect the Sabbath, the natural division of the weeks, one week runs into the other and it is not long before we are running on fumes.

Neglecting this one day out of seven rhythm was actually experimented with during the French revolution.  They operated on the French Republican Calendar, a calendar which was based on units of ten, resulting in ten day weeks.  Philosophically there were a couple of reasons for this.  The first reason was tied to the humanism of the French revolution which had as its motto “No God, No master”.  Taking out the traditional Sabbath was seen as a way to undermine organized religion.  Secondly, tied as it was to industrialization, increasing the work week led to more production.   How did the experiment work?  It lasted for twelve years and was scrapped because people were just plain too tired, they had neglected the God given rhythms and wore themselves out!

Practically this gives us a lot to think about.  Do we honor the rhythms that God has instilled in creation?  (Not only the Sabbath, but others as well, such as day/night, etc…)  What is the effect of neglecting this?  And we must think along all walks of life … For the employee, for the student, for the housewife?

The idea of rhythm is a big one.  Of course much ado about rhythms is tied to the idea rest, which sounds like a good subject for the next post …

“Come on and get a rhythm …”

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