I’m sitting here, in my back yard, enjoying the blessings of technology: plinking away this post on my Super Tablet (that’s the Asus Transformer 300, which I will take over any iPad), streaming new music all over the yard, taking advantage of the waves of wireless internet that emanate from my kitchen.
At the same time, I’m a little bit lo-fi: I’m in the back yard today because I’m the keeper of the smoker. A basic cooking vessel, a little charcoal and hickory wood, some simple spices, and a very ordinary hunk of pork will provide us with a magnificent mountain of pulled pork by dinner time.
It is a good day of Sabbath rest for me. Your Sabbath might look different: maybe you are outside, too, but are instead taking up the charge to care for and cultivate the creation, bringing out the beauty of the flowers and trees, or gathering the good harvest of the garden; maybe you are inside, sitting quietly with the word of the Lord, listening to his voice, savoring his presence, speaking a little but mostly hearing and being wrapped in the divine arms of love; maybe you are walking with your grandson in his wagon, exploring mile after mile, careless as to where you are because you are together, enjoying the gift of each other; maybe you are hiking the trails of a majestic mountain, seeing the wonders of wildlife and feeling your body pushed by the elements. These are fitting ways to take Sabbath (and, of course, there are many more), for God is present with you in every one of these places, and you are able to be attentive to his presence, thankful for his goodness, resting in him. Receiving his gift of Sabbath rest.
Today is Labor Day, and this seems like an appropriate day to take Sabbath rest. Even as we recognize American workers and the labor movements that have protected them from abuses, there is one with an even longer history of putting work in proper context. The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus is the one who gave the commandment-gift of Sabbath to his people, telling them and us that Your Work Does Not Own You. The key is understanding that Your Leisure Does Not Own You either. Every day of Sabbath rest, however it is spent, is a day that proclaims that I am owned by my God, my Maker, my Redeemer, my King, who has invited me into his household with all of its blessings. Including rest.
Over the last two and a half weeks I have seen two friends die suddenly. One was 24, still at the beginning of the journey of adulthood, and the other was a grandfather, but both were surrounded by family and friends who longed for more time with them, even just one more day. Every day of this life is a gift from God, and none of them come with a promise that it will not be the last such gift. Which means this is the day that the Lord has made, to love your family and friends, to do what the Lord has given you to do with excellence, to serve your neighbor, and above all to rest in the Lord of this glorious day.