In our present world, nothing ever turns off. There were seasons and rhythm in time among former generations. Night time was a time when things turned off. Winter was a time when people ceased their work in the fields. Weekends were different than the work week. Those lines are now blurred. The seasons no longer affect our activity. Technology never turns off. Media is always playing 24/7. You can facebook at 4am and get immediate feedback.
Weekends carry much the same activity as other days. Some social scientists and medical professionals say that all of this has affected our ability to sleep. More than 70 million Americans have sleep disorders. It has affected our ability to eat properly. More than 100 million Americans are obese and/or have diabetes. More and more, people are attributing much of this to our lack of rhythm, season and time differentiation. I would tend to agree. The lack of rhythm, rest and observance has hurt us- physically, socially, spiritually and emotionally.
There is something to Sabbath that satisfies the human need for rhythm, season and time differentiation. Of course in Jewish history, Sabbath was and has always been the seventh day, we conventionally regard as Saturday. That day was uniquely reserved for rest in a very prescribed way (over the top prescribed as the centuries unfolded). Early Christians, contrary to popular belief, did not change Sabbath day as the day of rest (Sunday Sabbatarianism did not really become an official position of the church until the fourth century). However, they began the practice of a unique observance of worship on Sunday also referred to as the Lord’s Day. After all, it was the day of the resurrection of Jesus. It became called, “Resurrection Day.” It was Pentecost day as well when the Holy Spirit was poured out on humanity. Sunday became a day of gathering for worship. And, it has been that way since the first century as a day to break bread, worship, remember the Lord and collect offerings (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev 1:10)
Regardless if a person worships God on the historic Rest day, or on the day on which Christ rose and the Holy Spirit came is secondary to this present concern. I might address that at another time. My present concern is that God ordained and ordered an observance on a particular day. The people of Israel observed something regularly on a day . The Christian church found value in a weekly observance during a specific day. It doesn’t seem that any religious community throughout history encouraged “no observance” at all or simply mushed everyday together as indistinct. That is no religious community has done that until recently. Casting history aside and casting scientist’s caution to the wind, there are many who essentially say, “Whatever!”, to the wisdom (Divine command or community wisdom) of rhythm, of letting go and letting God, of putting something ahead of my preference or schedule.
Sadly, we live in a culture that has dumbed-down the wisdom of cyclical observance, of a day for change, of a day where our primary activity is something aside from self or work focused. That has occurred to our own injury. We become adrift when we live each day alike. Because like gravity, our use of time will generally become simply utilitarian or desire based. ”What do I want to or need to do today?” In my estimation, that is a sad development.
Call me a child of tradition or whatever you will. But, I truly believe we need that rhythm. We need a repeating cycle for rest, focused worship and reserved honor of God. I like Sunday. Now, before anyone howls in protest, I will proudly announce that I have planted churches where our primary day of worship was a day other than Sunday (or Saturday for legalistic Sabbatarians). I planted one church where Thursday was our day of worship. Another church gathered on Friday. But, I like Sunday. Perhaps it is because it is the Lord’s Day historically and universally observed. Perhaps it is because the sheer numbers of believers gathered makes me feel like I am somehow closely connected with the whole Christian community. Perhaps it is because there is still a hint of cultural observance on that day. But, for whatever reason, I love the rhythm. I need the time to focus. I need it for my health- physically, relationally and spiritually. I need it to feel connected. I love Sunday. Today is Sunday. So, I’m leaving now, to worship God and rest and unplug from the gravity of self and work focused activity. And, I feel great about it.