We live in a busy world. So many things scream for our attention and it is getting harder and harder to fit everything into a 24-hour, seven-day week. And for those who still have young children at home, weekend sports or family activities may be the only precious moments they have to still connect to one another.
0nce upon a time, we lived an agricultural life style; our livelihoods depended upon growing our own food, maintaining our own livestock and helping our neighbours to do the same. Hours were long and chores were endless. But, Sunday, or Sabbath, was the one day in the week where, even if for just a few hours, families could put on their best Sunday clothes, drive the horse and buggy to worship and socialize with those they had not seen nor heard from for several days and then go home, eat together and relax until chores had to begin again.
Even more important, as a community, they could lift their voices in songs of praise and give thanks for good weather, abundant produce and just enough rain. They could pray, as one, for the misfortunes which befell them individually, or as a group and then join forces to assist in any way possible to help their neighbours. They grew a community of faith and love, whether related by blood or by common need.
Sabbath, for most Christians, has fallen by the wayside. Sunday family dinner has become a scramble to get everyone at the same table, at the same time. Grandparents, elderly aunts and uncles, cousins and friends no longer grace our dining rooms, if we indeed have a dining room. We have lost the benefit of the extended family; the continuity in our lives.
That was not the way of Jesus and his followers; they ate as a family and shared all they had at meals. In doing so, they created strength in numbers, a bond of friendship, an open invitation to those who might be alone, and a strong sense of community and support in times of both sorrow and joy. Most important, they created a holy space to honor the One who created them!
It is no secret that church attendance has dropped to a low from which we may never recover. But, perhaps, there is still one thing we can do as our communities get smaller and smaller. Something we can do as a gift for those who are “family”, blood related or not. And that is to set aside a few hours on Sabbath (or on any one day of the week) to open our hearts and our homes to those who are alone. To offer up a place of welcome and friendship that is missing in the lives of so many people. It does not have to be elaborate; tea and dessert may be enough. The most important item on the menu should be the willingness to love and be loved.
Sabbath was and is Creator God’s fourth commandment and is a blessing, a gift to us:
Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as a holy day. [Exodus 20:8-11 The Message (MSG)]
As Jesus so often said, perhaps now is the time to “Go and do likewise”.