It’s 11:03 on Monday as I begin typing this message. I like to have them done by 9:00 Monday morning, so as you can tell, I’m running a bit behind today. I imagine you’ve had days that have begun similarly to mine. Maybe you’ve gotten to the office and had some voicemails that have been sitting on the machine for a couple days, and you need to respond to them. Perhaps you’ve had appointments fill up your calendar and you get lost in the busyness of the tasks at hand, your normal activities take a backseat to the pressing.
This leads me to another commandment – the third (or fourth) “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” The original hearers of this commandment, Exodus-traveling Hebrews, would have had no trouble comprehending what God was saying to them: “Remember how I rested on the seventh day of creation? Keep it holy by doing likewise! Rest is my gift to you.” One day a week, take it off, and remember God – your center who has created you. This worked well, until the Pharisees began to make laws about what could and could not be done on the Sabbath, making the day a day of difficulty, a law unto itself, instead of a day of rest and God time.
So, what about you, me, and today? As Christians, we are no longer obligated to keep the Sabbath. The early church treated Sunday as the new Sabbath, as that’s the day that Jesus was raised from the dead on. Sunday then became, as much the Sabbath had, a day where we could do certain things, but not others (Remember the blue laws? That’s where they came from!) because we needed to remember to rest. I’m not convinced that that is the best interpretation of the commandment either. Let me propose this: the third commandment means “that we should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and his word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.” That’s how Martin Luther presented it in the 1500s.
What then of rest? Well, first, it clearly still matters – God did it, commanded us to do it, and has given it to us as a gift. So take time to rest, that way when the busyness of the week comes, be prepared. I originally meant to have this message take a “time management” bent, but I see I’ve gone elsewhere. Let me suggest refocusing our whole days, and weeks (also called Sabbaths) around the gifts of God, including time.
With the Lord begin your task; Jesus will direct it
For His aid and counsel ask; Jesus will perfect it
Every morning with Jesus rise, and when day is ended,
In His name then close your eyes; Be to Him commended. (LSB 869)