Some people seem to think that holidays and time off are frivolous or even unnecessary but the bible teaches us that ‘taking time off’ is one of the most important things we do. In the book of Genesis, when God created humanity on the sixth day, the next thing he did was to consecrate the following day as a day of rest, so humans’ first task was to take a day off.
Jesus famously argued with his opponents about the day of rest. Some people take from what Jesus said the idea that he was just abolishing the day of rest but it is not that simple: he was teaching that hungry people may be fed and people may be healed on the day of rest, that people may be rescued and set free from oppression and thirst and water on the day of rest (dropsy was thought to involve too much water in the body, in contrast with the bent-over woman who would have been thought of as dried out) and that, even on the day of rest, God is at work. And, of course, at the same time, Jesus was teaching that he is God himself.
The meaning of the day of rest is, at its simplest, that we should not keep trying every day to make things happen – especially not to make others work – and should instead be able to trust in God. Jesus took his most famous day of rest in the tomb after he had finished what he became human to do and we Christians should take our lead from him. We do not need to try to make things happen because God has accomplished all things, when he stopped work on the first Friday after finishing the creation and when he stopped work on Good Friday after finishing the new creation. We can trust in his work and, far from working every day God sends, we can rest in his finished work and celebrate and join in with what God is doing. Take it easy.
Fr Mike Healey (priest-in-charge)