Pulpit Reflections: Where would we be without a day of rest?

We the people of the United States of America live in a fairytale land. Freedoms, opportunity and prosperity that many people of the world can only dream about are taken for granted by us every day. It is no wonder that folks from all over the world have immigration to the United States as their fondest dream, and many of them go to dangerous and illegal efforts to come here. While it certainly bothers us that people would immigrate illegally, it is rather easy to understand why they would.

While there are many aspects of American life that are attractive, and upon which we might meditate, one of them that we take for granted, and seldom think about, is that of our weekly day off from work. We simply expect that this is the way things ought to be. Working full time without taking at least one day off is simply not the way we do it here. Indeed we have national laws that require employers to allow their employees to take a religious day of rest without penalty.

The best, and probably most important benefit of having a day of vacation every week is to deliver us from slavery to our work, or even worse, slavery to our employers. The founders of our nation had seen the evils visited upon indentured servants, and other folks who were caught in involuntary servitude. While it is a sad fact that they did not immediately apply this principle to black slaves, they did see to it that black slaves also participated in the weekly day of rest. Most of the founders also recognized that slavery would have to be outlawed because it was simply an evil that could not continue in the face of their own principles of liberty.

When we seek the foundations for this practice of a weekly day of rest, it is pretty obvious that it comes from the Holy Bible, the Christian Scriptures. No other religious or secular system of philosophy comes close to commanding people to divide their time into six-day work weeks, with one day in seven as a day of rest. Since there is no cycle of seven days in nature, this commandment is directly spiritual. The only way it can be kept is for people to count off the days in their minds (or on paper), and make the seventh day a day of rest for themselves. The reasons given in the Bible for this one in seven day of rest are several. First, we are to commemorate the time schedule used by God in creating the heavens and earth. Second, we are to keep this practice as a commemoration that God is our Savior from slavery (Exodus 31:13, Deuteronomy 5:15). In the New Testament this commemoration becomes the commemoration of the resurrection of Christ, through whom God saves us from the slavery of sin. Thus the rest is on the "Lord's Day," the first day of the week. Third, and finally, the day of rest is a celebration of our future rest from the labor and troubles of this world in a new heaven and earth, what we commonly call "heaven".

This weekly day of rest, or vacation, became ingrained in American life by direct legislation. Every one of the original forty-eight states enacted "blue laws," which are laws against commercial work and requiring employees to work on Sunday. Such laws were enforced everywhere in the United States during its first 150 years of existence, thus ensuring the freedom of the individual to take a weekly vacation from work and give him the opportunity to freely worship God. These are not inconsequential freedoms. America would not be what it is without them.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>