IN THE BEGINNING OF GOD’S CREATING, God make light and called forth land, made stars and the sun, the plants and animals. At the end of every day, God looked at what was created and named it good, blessed, beloved. On day 6, the last day of the week, God made people. Which does remind me how I’m not always at my best at the end of the week. God named the people good and blessed and beloved.
God made people, and went away to rest, for a whole day. God named this day of rest good and blessed and beloved.
Even God wasn’t exempt from resting. Into the rhythms of creation, into the very fabric, God wove rest. Built into the design of creation your rhythms of work and rest, of creation and rejuvenation
Time passed, and the people God made became more and more. By the time we get here, to Moses, the story is the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt.
The Egyptians had their own gods that they worshipped, gods that didn’t create out of goodness and love, but out of violence and exploitation.
While God’s people were slaves, they woke up in the morning, made bricks, built buildings, and slept. They woke up the next day made bricks, built buildings, and slept. They woke up the next day made bricks, built buildings, and slept. Into the 4th day, and the 5th day, the 6th day and even the 7th day. Then the week would start again.
Production became the god to worship. Accomplishment. More and better.
And they were exhausted. God heard their cries, set them free, they followed when God moved and stopped when God stopped. They couldn’t see a pattern.
Until they God to a mountain. God gave them rules to guide their community, to unite them, to help them live the kind of life God wanted for creation: Love God, love others, love self, be loved.
One of those rules was to worship God first and alone, and not the gods of production, accomplishment, fame, wealth, more and better. One of the rules was that God rested, they should rest, too. Not just the people with enough to rest, but the people who worked at the groceries stores and in the fields, those who were enslaved, and even the animals. One day a week, everyone would stop, because that is how God made the world.
I’m not preaching today but… I wonder what you think about our story.
I wonder what idols you might have made because that is how the world works. How we celebrate people who seem to do everything and shame those who can’t.
There’s a clergywoman I know who succeeds at church work in ways I think I fail, who also runs a non-profit, and teaches, and runs a podcast, and has a spouse, and… and makes it look easy. And I kinda want to hate her for it, but mostly just jealous.
I think about the idols we have made and how we celebrate those who work multiple jobs everyday and weekend to support their families but can’t be there to enjoy their families, and we miss that there might be a justice issue wrapped into sabbath… why can’t some people rest?
I’m not good at rest.
Kelly was working a job where, even on vacation, she was working, finding coverage for employees who didn’t show up, holding interviews to fill holes in the schedule. It was exhausting.
It’s hard to take time off. It’s hard to take time off when you have to work twice as hard to make sure everything works when you’re gone. My to-do list is never-ending and I am always missing out on doing something that is really important. This is why sermons get written on Saturdays—I have been thinking about it all week, but couldn’t fill my work week with writing when, look at everything else that needs to be done.
There are physical consequences to stress. And I can really only speak of my own experience and community. Historically, clergy are some of the most stressed and least healthy people. And I think as women, in any area, we are generally trying to prove we’re enough.
I need you to hear, I’m not looking for affirmation—to say I’m doing a good job really just validates my overworking. What I need is accountability. I don’t know how to talk to you about taking time to intentionally rest and care for yourself, enjoy creation, enjoy your family, if I don’t do it myself. It is hollow words and I want better for us.
Let us hold each other accountable to rest. To take deep breaths, to be ok when we stop, when we say no, when things don’t always get done.
And, let us care for each other, saying yes so someone else can find rest, too. Stepping up so they can take a step back. If rest and sabbath are built into the foundations of creation, they make up who we are too. May we find ways to give rest to others, as well as ourselves.