That may seem ironic. After all, the Gospels are pretty clear that the Sabbath was a regular point of contention between Jesus and the Pharisees. They objected to the healings that he did on the Sabbath. He responded that the Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. That is to say, the Sabbath is a gift from God for our benefit, not something to obsess over.
But times have changed. Now the problem that I experience is the opposite from what Jesus experienced. We don’t have people enforcing Sabbath observance in uncharitable ways, at least not in my life. Instead, thanks to technology, artificial lights, and an obsession with productivity, I, and many others, find it difficult ever to stop working.
In our day, keeping a Sabbath seems like a necessity for our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. But keeping a Sabbath is also counter-cultural enough that it is hard to do. Obligations creep into my weekend, to the point that I find myself working much of Saturday and Sunday. Sunday is probably inevitable for a priest, but still.
So I aspire to a greater Sabbath legalism. I want to develop the habit of refusing to attend meetings on Saturdays, and going with whatever sermon I have as of Friday evenings, and of truly honoring my commitment not to get on my computer on weekends. And, at least until that habit is formed, I am going to have to be legalistic to make it happen.
I would like to think that Jesus approves. Indeed, I suspect that if Jesus were to come back, he would remind us that the Sabbath is a gift from God for our well-being and that we should use it. He would add that we need to remember always that we are not made simply for work, but rather that work is made for us. That is, he would want us to feel less obligated to work all the time when more work was not in our best interests. At least I hope so!!