Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sabbath and Mission

I grew up on a farm and if you know anything about farms, there is never NOT work to do. But every Sunday, my father would take a day of rest. We did not do farm work on Sundays. Now I assumed that this was about reverence and worship of God, but when you read the Exodus account of the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath is about work stoppage, not about worship. Walter Brueggemann states: "It is about withdrawal from the anxiety system of Pharaoh, the refusal to let one's life be defined by production and consumption and the endless pursuit of private well-being" (Journey to the Common Good, 26).

The Israelites had been schooled in the way of anxiety. The Sabbath was God's strategy to break what they learned and teach them a new way. As I think about life today, the word "anxious" seems appropriate. And I'm not sure that being a Christian diminishes the effects of the anxiety of our world. Too often the patterns of anxiety shape and mold us and then we try to lay God on top of that, even asking God to help us do the anxious life better.

In a day dominated by anxiety and fear, the people of God demonstrate God's mission in our world by "stopping their work." By resting. By demonstrating trust. By putting hope in the one who breaks into the world to do what we can not. This is far beyond some optimistic dream that things will get better if we keep doing what we are doing, building upon today's reality for a better tomorrow. Sabbath trust. Sabbath hope is the practice of stopping to see that God is coming into our reality with his reality.

This is his mission!

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