What is a weekend?
In today's readings the focus is on the Sabbath. Deuteronomy reiterates the Ten Commandments but with commandment of keeping the Sabbath holy, God adds, all people are to have time off. So if we think about it, God gave us our first labor law. We know through history people worked seven days a week with perhaps Christmas Day off. There were no trips out of town or holiday time away with friends and family. People worked themselves sometimes literally to death. The fall-out from all of this was the rise in alcoholism and child neglect. Society was filled with the lost and broken due to lack of care and attention God commanded of us.
Weekends are a relatively new phenomenon. In Downton Abbey, the Dowager Countess asks over dinner, "What is a weekend?" What we have taken as a joke, she was perfectly honest in asking. It is the 1920's at this point in the story and the Countess was born in 1840, a weekend was a relatively new invention. It came from working people going to a friend's house at week's end. Friday evening until Sunday morning. Perhaps you remember the world stopping on Sunday. Then it changed. Suddenly in the 1970's stores began opening and Sunday became like any other day.
Fast forward to 2018, and people do not even take holidays off. Employees are constantly wired for work. The expectation is we will always be available no questions asked. It has become the norm to work all the time. In fact, we believe there is something wrong with us if we are not in perpetual motion. Even retirees have schedules that would put most 20-somethings to shame.
As the school year closes out how many of us recall on the last day of school running out of building feeling free. We had time off. Time to play, and imagine. To think and to read. The weeks stretched out in front us with glorious possibilities. I for one think we need to reclaim those feelings to take time to think and read and imagine. No matter our age.
God's command to rest on the Sabbath is a welcome respite from all the shall not's in the Ten Commandments. This one is "Thou shall rest." Good advice from the Man himself who even managed a day off after creating the world and all that is in it.
Today is Holy Trinity Sunday and if a rector is lucky enough, he or she will not have to preach. The lucky one has either an assistant assigned to the day, or just takes the day off and finds supply. Why? You may ask. The simple reason is the Trinity is not easily explained and when the Church grapples with these concepts, more often than not, they are explained a mystery and we move on. So moving on is what I am going to do.
For the call of Isaiah is more interesting to contemplate. A huge temple, think four or five football fields in size, incense filling the space with clouded scent and Seraphs. Yes Seraphs are captivating and high in the angelic realm-second in line. So who would you want guarding the temple? Cute angels and rosy winged cherubs or something a little more commanding? Seraphs are not rosy cheeked angels, they are winged lizards, dragons who fly around and proclaim loudly, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY. So loud in fact the rafters of the temple shook Why? Because our God is a great God.
Isaiah has been chosen by God to lead the Israelites and in the first five chapters of Isaiah we find, as usual, they are misbehaving. God wants them straightened out and no one is willing to do the job. Finally after Isaiah hems and haws, says he is not worthy, he is filled with sin, he relents and tells God to send him.
How many of us have felt like Isaiah? Someone asks you to do something slightly out of your comfort zone and the first response is, "I can't do that. I'm not smart enough or rich enough or creative enough or... you fill in the blanks. Well I am here to tell you, you are all of those things and more. God doesn't need people who are sinless, he needs people who now how sin feels. He wants real people not cardboard cut-outs of disciples. Why? Because who can better understand the trials and tribulations of humanity than those of us who have stumbled and even fallen? We can lead because we are not called to perfection, we are called to follow the risen Christ. A Jesus who knows how it feels to be human because he was. He understands what it meant to make mistakes, because he did. Remember the Syro-phoencian woman, arguing with Jesus until he changed his mind. That's who Jesus calls, people who will not blindly follow but will question and yes even fuss at being called.
I love the call of Isaiah not because of dragons and puffing smoke but because I see a little of all of us in Isaiah. Tentative, nervous, apprehensive but realizing God wants us no matter who we are or what we have done. All are forgiven...now the work begins.
I've been thinking
This Lent the focus is on being mortal. The first week the Frontline program "Being Mortal" and the discussions in the following weeks have been about end of life issues.
What I have been thinking about is this is not about dying but rather how do I want to live? This doesn't mean throwing caution to the wind and acting as if there is no tomorrow but rather how can I have the best quality life while I am here on earth. What are my beliefs and how do they form my actions in this world. What do I really want for myself and for others? These are the questions which have been forcing me to examine who I am and what is my place in the world.
While I do not have answers to these questions, I have noticed I am not alone in thinking deeply about these issues. The challenge is to be willing to hold in tension what I do and do not know and to be patient in waiting for some kind of direction or response.
The past few weeks have been interesting for all participants and it shows up in the attendance each week. What I do know I am in the right place at the right time with the right people to think of how I want to live. Then have the courage to live.