“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8, ESV)
(Before I begin, I need to wish a Happy Birthday to the amazing Heather T.!)
I spend a lot of time in Zoom meetings. I have since Zoom was released but it used to be only once a month or so. Now, during my work week it is normal for me to have 3 Zoom meetings a day often adding up to 9 hours of time staring at my screen with my new bright red head phones on.
Don’t get me wrong – I love that we have this technology. Its allowed us to continue with the work of the church during the pandemic. I also, quite frankly, love my red headphones.
Yesterday afternoon, when I was on Zoom meeting number 3 with the Regional Ministry Personnel, an interesting topic of conversation came up about how we were using our time during the pandemic and how we can use our vacation time and study leave when we can’t travel anywhere. Several of us, myself included, talked about how guilty we felt taking time for ourselves because the nature of our work has changed so dramatically. With the loss of being able to see people in person, and do ministry in person, it feels like we can’t tick those artificial time sheet boxes that remind us that we are ‘doing our job’ during the day. Another minister commented that a pastoral care phone call takes far less time out of our day than an actual pastoral visit; typically a phone call is much more purposeful and doesn’t involve travel time, or making tea time, or petting the dog time. Still another minister commented that we can’t ‘get away’ from ministry because we can’t travel any where and so why would we even use our vacation time?
But then many commented on Covid-fatigue and burn-out. And that the nature of our work often can’t be captured on a traditional time-sheet. And that ministry, because it’s a Call and not a job, means that its who we are all day, every day – its our identity, not a series of discrete tasks.
I know that many of you have held professions where the lines a blurred between your work and your home. My mom was an elementary school teacher and my dad was a University prof and both ‘lived’ these professions 24/7. I also know that ‘workaholism’ is the most socially sanctioned addiction that we have. People are admired when they put their ‘all’ into their jobs; sacrificing both their physical health and their mental health and perhaps even their family life. Covid has blurred the lines even more because we do our work in the spaces where we are supposed to live and rest.
All of this has me thinking about how our call to have a Sabbath rest – our commandment in fact, is radically counter-cultural. Jesus is described 3 times in the New Testament as being the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8, Luke 2:28 and Mark 6:5). If you follow my thinking, then if we profess to be Christian, or followers of Jesus, then a Sabbath is not only important, it’s a marker of our faith.
Rest is a marker of our faith. A break – a place to breathe – a place where we stop ‘doing’ and start ‘being’ is a marker of our faith.
So, my dear Bethel Friends, I hope you will not only join me in marking a Sabbath but that you’ll hold me accountable to marking a Sabbath. You all are very good and rarely place demands on me, and for that I’m grateful, but I know MANY of you overwork, over volunteer and have trouble simply sitting and being for a 24 hour period. (You know who you are!!!) Because, really, its what we are called to do. You know that old chorus “…And they’ll know we are Christians by our Love” – well maybe its also “….And they’ll know we are Christians by our Rest”
Blessings today and remember you are Loved.
Your picture today is of Clara, my grand kitten, surveying my Sabbath set up that includes the flowers you all sent me, a mug that Rev. Takouhi sent me and my tablet with books downloaded from the library.