Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Joyful Rest - The Lord's Day

The idea of a Sunday Sabbath seems so remote from our culture, and even, often from our churches. I remember when the law changed when I was a child to allow Sunday trading. I remember then a few Christians who still refused to use the shops or pay to go swimming on a Sunday, but most of us drifted into relying on being able to pop out for extra milk or go to the cinema or a meal out on a Sunday without a second thought. I was certainly one of the latter group.

Over the last decade, Michael and I have changed our convictions on the Sabbath. We have gradually become convinced that the creation ordinance of Sabbath (Gen 2:3) continues for believers today as we celebrate a New Testament Sabbath rest on the Lord's Day, the first day of the week. We are called to set aside one day in seven to rest; not idleness, but Biblical rest from labour in order to enjoy God, to meet with God's people, and to hear God's Word together. As we do so, we look forward to the New Creation, and that final rest for God's people with God forever.

This seems alien - we feel odd even among some of our Christian friends and family - yet it has been the normal practice of Christians throughout the history of the church. Sometimes it is seen as a burdensome belief, which makes Sunday into a day of weary duties and no fun. However, if, as Jesus says, the Sabbath is a gift to bless God's people, then this shouldn't be the case. We are deliberately positive about our Sunday rest, and this has been a genuine blessing to us as a family.

Furthermore, my husband is a pastor; what does it mean for him to rest on a Sunday? Surely he has to work! We've been thinking some of these issues through as a family over the last few years, and have settled on a framework by which we celebrate the Lord's Day.

Here are some things we always do, some things don't, and lots of things we are free to do:

We always: 

1) Go to church (even when we're on holiday).

2) Serve others at church and home.

We don't:

1) Do the washing....

2) ...or the the cleaning...

3)...or other housework.

4) "School" work

5) Marking

6) Admin. emails

7) Business meetings at church

8) Planning home ed. stuff

9) Shopping (work for us, and, worse still, needs others to work too).

10) Eating out/takeaways (see above...)

11) Pay to go to swimming/cinema etc etc. (see above...)

We are free to:

1) Go for a walk.

2) Eat croissants for breakfast (a tradition here).

3) Enjoy yummy lunch, with a good pudding.

4) Have friends from church over for a meal.

5) Take a sneaky nap.

6) Play a board game.

7) Read a book.

8) Watch a film.

9) Draw a picture.

10) Crochet.

11) Eat cake.

12) Drink tea.

13) Phone a friend for a chat.

14) Listen to music.

15) Rest.

Sunday Pudding!

How has this blessed us? Well, it is a relief to have the burdens of daily life lifted. I don't feel guilty not getting on with stuff on Sunday - I am convinced that this would, in fact, be the wrong choice. If I haven't marked my books for Monday, I don't think about it as I am freed from worrying about what I should be doing. This is a big deal for me!

Michael is busy on a Sunday: leading, preaching, caring for people; lots of conversations, and sometimes people here for lunch. However, this does not mean that he doesn't rest on a Sunday. He leaves behind much of the work that occupies him most of the week, and is focused on these core ministries. He serves God's people, as we all serve each other.

The children look forward to Sundays too. They know that we are around for them, they look forward to church, and Sunday breakfast is a treat they anticipate eagerly.

Disclaimer 1:

Our Sundays are not always perfect! Stuff goes wrong, children are stroppy, I am stroppy...but, overall, we do look forward to Sunday, and we do genuinely see it as a day of rest and refreshment in the Lord.

Disclaimer 2:

I know that sometimes people can't avoid working on a Sunday (and that life is complicated); this doesn't mean that we can't take the Lord's Day seriously. It actually makes me more determined not to arrange my life so that other people need to work for me to enjoy the Lord's Day (so we won't be going out for lunch on Sunday to make life easier!).

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