01/06/09: The Sabbeth: A Day of Rest?
(due to a technical issue this article didn’t appear in last month's newsletter, somehow Brian’s ‘Secretary’ provided a previous article – did anyone notice??)
I think I should begin this month's article with some outrageous statement or other and just wait and see who in the church actually reads the magazine. Cathie, Linda and Vernon with others do a tremendous job throughout the year producing the Newsletter. I have always felt the publication was read by everyone. Certainly when the new foyer came into use we had to produce even more copies than usual. However, recently I have been aware that some members have no idea what is included in the Newsletter. They have not engaged with ideas and requests. So is the newsletter worth the
expense, time and effort?
“ Oh he’s not going to start droning on about the Lenten promises” I hear our few readers mumble. Well, no but the lack of take up and the lack of knowledge about why coloured notes were stuck round the entrance door with a few promises written on them (mainly by Junior Church) suggested some questions need to be asked about our
Should the articles here be devotional or should they account more of the church’s day to day life? Well my plan for this month is to mention the church’s view of Sunday. It will be a year next month since the Church Council decided to permit the sale of Traidcraft produce on a Sunday once a month. It was a decision that did not command the support of a number in the life of the church and it has raised comments from a number of
visitors. It has also caused problems for Junior Church members and I regret that such issues have arisen. The matter will be reviewed by a future Church Council.
The Ten Commandments contain the instruction to keep the Sabbath Holy. We are called to set the day aside for God, for God’s use and our enjoyment. It is a day that should feel and be different to the other six days in the week. We actually have
permission to rest.
In recent years this distinctive feature of the way of things has been eroded and
generally trashed. The resulting damage in Society has not moved us enough over the years to respond to or counter the decay. The church has often judged the matter with the views of the world rather than the view of Faith.
Now it’s important to say that Sunday should be preserved for Society rather than
keeping it simply for quiet services in church. Families have suffered greatly with change in sport, leisure and shopping habits.
Those who work in the retail industry have found the choices have disappeared. Choices for working or religious observance have been removed despite legislation. Thus the time families spend together is more and more fragmented. We often find this with our own children as ‘event parties’ now often take place on a Sunday
Yes times have changed and not everyone wants to spend the day in church or sitting around with kith and kin. But much of this drive came from those who wanted to make money; the supermarkets and shopping centres etc. This has been social engineering of the most secular agenda and the willingness of some to follow this line even in the Church is open to question.
What should Christians do to observe the Sabbath, do nothing, attend devotions, or treat the day as any other day? Now contrary to the belief of some I am not being
legalistic about Sunday. We may all have a need to buy petrol, milk or medicines on the Sabbath. But when six days already exist for the purpose should we really go round half of Exeter or the Bristol Mall buying everything in sight.
The Sabbath instructions were to rest, not to worship all day long or consult the
scriptures etc. The instruction was to rest; to be still. We need to consider this and we should tell the world that even the Almighty took a break. The Church should have said far more about this issue when big business was forcing through Sunday opening. The Church needs to say something today about the damage being given to family life by those very changes. But unless we put our own house in order that contribution will fall on deaf ears.
We must look at how effective some of our plans have been. Fair Trade is an
opportunity to help those who do not find fairness in their community and I commend the work and the products, but I seriously question if we are going about it in the right manner. The Church provided an outlet for Fair Trade when big business tried to keep such things secret and quiet. Years later a number of the big shops now carry such products which is good news. Volume is the key to the future and working to get more shops to carry the products should be our aim (even if they do sell the stuff on Sunday).
For us though a higher regard for discipline and leaving some space in life for what matters will prove very useful. We may look again at putting God first instead of
insisting on what seemed to us a good idea. We may also have something to say to others which sounds different to what the world of money tells them.
Now lets see if anyone reads this.