We live in a world that is just plain busy. We are so connected to our work, and connected to each other, by devices and the desire to be connected that the idea of a work day bounded by hours of "time on" and "time off" is fast becoming an abstraction. Even as many cultures and countries are working to shorten the work week, the time we actually spend working is increasing. It is also being woven in the warp and weft of our lives.
This trend is more than parents sending email replies to work inquiries on their phones during their children's soccer games. Not too long ago, I read an article that sought to coach "older" bosses about young workers entering the market for the first time, post-schooling. The article counseled bosses concerned that their workers were not apparently working hard during business hours with the knowledge that these youngsters don't see seams between work and life. They are as likely to answer emails at 2 AM from their bedside (where they sleep with their phones and tablets plugged in) as they are to work on their personal music playlists during office hours.
In this midst of this developing 24/7 working life, where does the idea of Sabbath fall? The answer is that unless we actually make the effort to unplug and turn off, there won't be a Sabbath rest. It will cease to exist.
That's not a good thing, and reading today's offerings brings that realization to the forefront of our attention. The one thing God offers us in this life is an invitation into Covenant, and all three readings tender that as an ideal: our being able to enter into God's rest. With that entering into God's Sabbath, we receive a number of blessings: quiet, peace, assurance, hope, respite from struggle and conflict with neighbors, knowledge of God-with-us that is intimate and immediate. Without that rest? Pain, conflict, anxiety, vulnerability to the point of defeat/death, and I am sure you can come up with a host of other stuff. Yes?
Losing touch with Sabbath means getting locked into the ways of this world that are blatantly apart from setting God as the cornerstone of our being. Hearing God's invitation to enter into that promised rest means being willing to break away from the stuff that sunders our connections to God and to each other. Giving up the former and taking on the latter is the continual journey of humanity toward reconciliation with our Creator. Taking that to a more immediate level? Before you plug in to whatever work your life in this world asks of you, (before, mind you) take a moment to Sabbath with God. That moment, that "now" with God is really all God asks of us. For when we take that first moment with God, then all the rest that come with the advancing hours of the day become linked to it.
The challenge is to make sure that first moment is God's, rather than the last...