Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Sabbath from the Slowdown?

Di wondered aloud the other day whether the recession might force stores and restaurants to cut back on their hours of business ... and if so, whether they might consider simply going back to that quaint old tradition of yesteryear: closing on the Lord's day.

(When Di was looking for work last year, it was bad enough that all the retail stores required their employees be available Sundays — no exceptions for sabbatarians. But she was particularly dismayed that every Christian book store required the same. Reasons given included, "It's our biggest sales day each week," and, "We consider our work here to be a ministry ... " Uh, yeah. Then maybe you should be giving your stuff away on Sundays? Just sayin' ...)

So at any rate, do you think it's possible that God might use the recession to (among other things) call us to rethink our 24/7 lifestyles and return the wisdom and validity of the Fourth Commandment?


Renee said...

Yes, I definitely think we will see stores cutting hours and depending on what the budget cuts are at David's job, they are thinking of closing down on Sundays due to David's influence. Others had suggested Monday or Friday. David pointed out that closing down a different day would force many employees to work on Sunday and that would be bad for morale.

Off topic: I just mailed your Christmas card to your Phoenix address - will it get forwarded to you???? Renee Richmond

Frank said...

Hi Renee! Thanks for your comments.

When you said, "they are thinking of closing down on Sundays," I assume you're talking about the actual library branches themselves, not the library system's "behind-the-scenes" administration? Because I just can't imagine that the administrators would ever have been working on Sundays.

At any rate, good for Dave! As I have been looking for work (and getting closer to regular full-time employment) here in Spokane for the last few months, I have resolved to always state very clearly that I do not work Sundays because

• I am a Christian;
• Sunday is the Lord's Day, the Christian sabbath; and
• God requires me to remember and keep the Sabbath day by attending worship AND resting. "Six days you shall work, but the seventh you shall rest."

Or to borrow language from one of the job apps I recently filled out, "My religious beliefs or practices prohibit me from working on a particular day." You can have me 24/6, but not the Lord's Day.

As I have discussed this topic with various people I meet — whether out in public, or in a workplace context — I have gotten nothing but an affirmative response to the idea of closing non-essential stores, restaurants and workplaces on Sundays.

("Non-essential" being defined as works other than mercy, necessity or grace — workplaces other than, e.g., hospitals and pharmacies; hotels and freeway restaurants; and churches and rescue missions.)

The funny thing is, though, lots of people seem to couch their agreement with the "Sabbath idea" in non-religious terms, at least initially. E.g., "Sunday is my 'family' time."

And when Dianne worked at Michael's, the arts and crafts retailer, they considered themselves to be graciously accommodating to her religious beliefs merely by not scheduling the start of her Sunday workday until after she'd gone to church.

But after church, the slaves have to report for work anyway?! Uh-uh! That's not what the Sabbath is about! It's about us resting from our labors because of what God has done for us:

"For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Ex. 20:11); and

"And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day" (Deut. 5:15).

Among other things, the Sabbath is an ongoing sign of God's grace and faithfulness.

The church definitely needs to return to an ethic of Sabbath-keeping. Like a good friend of mine once said, if just those who are professing Christians would stop shopping and eating out on the Lord's Day, the stores and restaurants would have to close due to the lack of business.

James said...

Hey Frank. Maybe that thing economists call an "adjustment" will adjust a lot more than economics. Sundays would be a good place to start a much needed national slowdown. After that maybe they'll banish the 24 hour stores and let us all go back to sleeping at night.