by Pete Schrank
In 2019, the words “remember the Sabbath Day” seem to get harder and harder for Christians to follow. Long ago, the Jews had the 10 commandments as the law. People would be punished for breaking the law or even killed for desecrating the Sabbath. A Christian fundamentalist, John Calvin, helped pass a municipal law which placed people in jail if they did not go to church on Sunday. Our Catholic friends believe that it is a mortal sin not to attend weekly Mass. As kids, I can remember that we went to Church every week without question. As Lutherans, it is an admonition to not skip church.
Well, as they say, times have changed. We have more money but less time. Dad and Mom both work and most times not just a 40 hour work week; they work weekends and evenings. Our families have fewer children but more activities: organized soccer, baseball, football, cheerleading, lacrosse, scouts, dance, music lessons, school clubs, church groups, choir, chimers, and many more things to do. No wonder, when the Sabbath comes, people have no time for church.
The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew verb sabbat meaning “rest from labor”. Our Lord asks us to set apart this day as holy and sanctified. This day was made for us by God so that we may be refreshed and renewed for the week ahead through worship and rest. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus cut across the old Jewish traditions and restrictions to emphasize the God-given purpose of the Sabbath; a day intended for man’s spiritual, mental and physical restoration. Are we using this day wisely, as our creator has intended?
I have a longer drive to church than many people. When I was a child, the church was just at the end of the block and we walked most Sundays. Now, I drive from Lockport to Orland Park to attend church. I sometimes go as early as 6:30 am to get there a little early but I have also been known to walk in as the bells are ringing. As I drive in, I see people at the golf course, walking their dog, out for a jog or a bike ride, fishing in the pond near the house and at the grocery store. Of course, there are those individuals trying to catch up from their sleep deprived week of work, kid’s activities, and the stress of life. Do you know the best prescription for stress relief? A couple of hours of fellowship with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ, which is church.
Many of the folks who are too busy for church grew up just like me going to church every week. Times have changed, but our love of God and our desire to have His peace and understanding as part of our life has not changed. In order to efficiently use the limited time in each day, the process of getting things done requires making lists and setting priorities. This way we can separate the important from the unimportant. That list of priorities should include the Sabbath.