Sabbath, in the first instance, is not about worship. It is about work stoppage. It is about withdrawal from the anxiety system of Pharaoh, the refusal to let one’s life be defined by production and consumption and the endless pursuit of private well-being. It is easy to imagine that in Pharaoh’s system there never was a sabbath for anyone. Everyone was 24/7! The slaves never got a day off and perhaps had to multitask to meet their quotas. Pharaoh surely never took a day off; he was too busy writing memos and sending out work orders and quotas. As a result everyone was caught up in an endless process of production and accumulation…. Sabbath is an occasion for community enhancement, for eating together and remembering and hoping and singing and dancing and telling stories—all exercises that have no production value.*
From 24/7 news cycles, to 24/7 smartphone availability, to 24/7 production hours… we, like Pharaoh, can fall prey to a live without Sabbath. Stoppage comes at a cost. Only when we stop do we invest our time in those things that have no production value.
What is a nothat you have been postponing? What one appointment you can cancel? What is the gift that you have held hostage? What is one call you could make today to set up time with someone who’s time you value beyond what they produce?
* Brueggemann, Walter. Journey to the Common Good (pp. 26-27). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.