May 18, 2018 Common Good

A Pause that Reimagines Social Life

The great “triad of vulnerability” in the book of Deuteronomy identifies widows, orphans, and immigrants as needy members of society who are without protected rights…. It is no stretch at all to see that on Sabbath day these vulnerable, exposed neighbors shall be “like you,” peaceably at rest. In this interpretive tradition, Sabbath is not simply a pause. It is an occasion for reimagining all social life away from coercion and competition to compassionate solidarity. Such solidarity is imaginable and capable of performance only when the drivenness of acquisitiveness is broken. Sabbath is not simply the pause that refreshes. It is the pause that transforms. Whereas Israelites are always tempted to acquisitiveness, Sabbath is an invitation to receptivity, an acknowledgment that what is needed is given and need not be seized.*

Who are your friends and what authority do you have to widen that network? Like-mindedness is destroying community, and separation by social class is crushing the fabric of our communities. The vulnerable act of inviting friendship does not mean every invitation will be welcomed. But the ability to befriend those neighbors who are vulnerable, the widow, the orphan, and the immigrant is a lifestyle choice. You don’t have to go it alone. Reach out to a friend and brainstorm for ways to connect with the vulnerable. Often you’ll discover that naming that intention will give you eyes to see opportunities.

Consider your weekly habits and when you rest. How might you include a vulnerable nieghbor in that habit? Who could you share a meal with, or take a walk with or enjoy and afternoon sharing stories on the porch? It could begin with a neighborhood walk, intentionally introducing yourself to someone different than you. It could include visiting a space where you could volunteer.

Resist the temptation to make this one more “activity” or “production” and, instead, ask “How might I put myself in a posture to receive and be transformed through friendship with those who are vulnerable?”



*Brueggemann, Walter. Sabbath as Resistance, (p. 45). Presbyterian Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Share with a friend