Quarterly Letter - September 2017
Working patterns impinge hugely on most people today. In Britain we work amongst the longest hours of all our European neighbours, and as a result many people become long term stressed and tired. I recently learnt the difference between 'the day off' and the concept of Sabbath in the bible.
'Sabbath' is what God took after he had created everything, and if God took rest, we can safely assume we should too. But rest is more than just stopping work. Sometimes when we stop work we need a day or two to unwind before the real rest takes place. The rest God took was to sit back; look at what had emerged, and declare that it was 'good'. It was a sort of contemplation, a sigh of satisfaction and deep appreciation of the universe in all its glory.
Real rest, real Sabbath, is re-creative. It restores my soul. In these days of digital devices and hyper connectivity, it is very hard for some of us to switch off and take the rest we need, find the distance from our screens and emails.
Then again, maybe you find yourself in a retirement situation where work is a distant memory and you even have too much rest on your hands. This points again to the way we are created or 'wired' - we flourish when we have meaningful things to do, that take our energies, but which are punctuated by restorative periods on a regular basis. This is the pattern in the first book of the bible, Genesis, which is all about beginnings. In the beginning we were designed for meaningful activity with regular periods of restorative Sabbath. This is the truth about us.
When you meet someone who is overwhelmed with life, even on the verge of a nervous breakdown or other health related issue, it can sometimes be traced to a poor pattern of work and rest. And I don't mean paid work necessarily; some of the most tiring 'work' I ever did was the work of caring for small children. Rest back then meant finding another competent adult who could release me to go away from the home for a time of restoration, or Sabbath.
So whether we have too much time, or not enough time on our hands, whether we're over working or feel under-employed, I pray that we will all find a God given rhythm of work and Sabbath. This is the way of life and health.
Revd. Claire Alcock