Walking with a fellow preacher on President’s Day, we began to commiserate about the fact that we often work on days that most people experience as holidays. Christmas and Easter are the obvious ones, but even those happy little Monday holidays that normal people enjoy don’t usually provide a day off for us. Sermons still need to be written, bible studies need prepped, and urgent hospital visits aren’t canceled due to the calendar. Don’t get me wrong, we love our work. But carving out a sabbath for people who work on the sabbath takes effort. Everybody who has to work on the weekend, raise your hand!
My friend confessed to me that the only time she really feels released from work is on a snow day. The inability to physically get out of the house is the one time she can just let herself have a do-nothing day and relax without feeling guilty. We don’t get many snow days on the Outer Banks, but when we do, it’s a treat.
There is truly something magical about a snow day that helps the world shut down and reflect. I can remember the joy of a snow day when I was a kid. All of Chatham Road would gather on the street for snowball fights, sledding, and making snowmen in each other’s front yards. Snow days are a child’s best sabbath.
Exodus 20 (The Message)
8-11 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town.
For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.
I joked with my friend that poor God is looking at all of his hard workers and saying, “What, I gotta send you SNOW to make you take a rest?” God created the sabbath for us so that we might cease our work and spend that time with family, friends, our thoughts, and God himself. That’s why he made it HOLY: it is set apart for his use so we might re-charge and re-connect with him.
Sabbath-making and sabbath-taking is meant to be a blessing to us. Many of my friends work seven days a week for months on end. The Outer Banks is a seasonal community, and our population quadruples with visitors in the warmer months. Our local businesses go crazy when the season begins. Sometimes there is no choice.
So the key here is to create sabbath in ways that accomplish what sabbath is intended to do: to re-charge our souls and re-connect with God. In other words, find a way to create your own snow day.
If God, who created the universe, counted and named all the stars, and set the rising and the setting of the sun in motion took a day off, so can you. Rest. Recuperate. Relax and remember who you are, and whose you are.
Tomorrow comes either way.