I remember elementary recess. Tag was an all-time favorite game. The boys and girls would chase each other, and after avoiding being tagged by the chaser the chased person would exclaim, “You missed me. You missed me. Now you got to kiss me.” Such an innocent game was tag. Both sets of people, girls and boys, enjoyed it. They felt like there were mutual outcomes: enjoyment and stress relief. Although recess usually ended too soon, we nevertheless experienced re-energization.
Thirty years later I have learned a valuable lesson from this game: labor, whether in adulthood careers or childhood schoolwork, requires recess moments. God understands this as well, hence, the Sabbath. As a kid gym and recess were my times to “cut loose” and enjoy myself. As an adult, Sunday worship is such a moment.
For many of us Sunday is our only moment since weekday evenings and Saturdays are filled with homework and chores. Unfortunately, I, and perhaps some of us, have been guilty of exhausting people during Sunday worship through our messages. We sometimes do this by proclaiming messages filled with a lot about very stressful things. For me, many of my messages were prophetic, calling the people, city and nation back to truth and justice. Although it is necessary to be prophetic, the way in which I was doing it was, dare I say, irresponsible and insensitive.
Before continuing let’s acknowledge that yes, the biblical Sabbath was sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, and it was for rest, avoiding exhaustion and depletion. The early church de-emphasized this biblical Sabbath and began celebrating Sunday mornings due to it being the day Christ rose. We now refer to this day as the Christian Sabbath or the Lord’s Day. Although the concept of “Sabbath” has experienced a calendar shift as well as a renaming, its purpose, however, remains the same: rest. Rest, however, is not limited to idleness and sleep but can also include actions that allow you to recover and recharge from living.
We know that we need encouragement and direction. The weekly message is an excellent time for both needs. The cultural and political wars we are experiencing, however, can cause us to lose sight of our goal to motivate and direct. We, instead, could inadvertently overemphasize addressing injustice and ungodliness so that we lose sight of our main calling: to shepherd those that God has sent to us. Instead of shepherding them we fight the good fight of truth and justice. We address the meso- and macro-issues in politics and accidentally under-emphasize the micro
Some of our members are in the midst of a marital spat or are stressed about finances or have lost sight of how to pray since the kids were born. They come to worship service, hoping for a word of direction. Instead, they receive a strong message about another area of injustice or brokenness that we must address. They agree that the area of injustice or brokenness should be attended to, but they are still recovering from something else. They wish the minister would see that injustice and brokenness leave a legacy, a wound, that, if not attended to holistically, may cause the survivor’s plight to be prolonged or worsened.