Recently, there was a song going around the internet called the “Rich Men North of Richmond”. It mostly speaks to the anguish of a working man who is striving and working and is not making ends meet, and, yes, there are some digs that many are questioning, and sometimes just questioning those who are supporting the song.
There seems a lot of truth, or a lot of perception of that this is the truth, that below middle-class wage earners (and many middle-class ones, too) are working their fingers, bodies, souls, minds off to make ends meet. How many are the like the Hebrews at this point in Exodus, who are trying to make ends meet without a basic component previously supplied, and now not.
In a culture that has idolized working hard to the nth degree, why are we surprised that rest and worship are viewed as a measure of luxury and a sign of laziness. There is, of course, too much rest, but our culture, at this point, does not value rest.
COVID seemed to have reset the rest aspect, but we are now watching it fade away. Mindfulness and meditation apps were all the rage during COVID. It doesn’t seem so now. As worship, especially the type depicted in the Pentateuch of no normal work (arguments over what defines normal, aside), is not normal work (which, of course, is the point), it must be rest, and rest is not to be trusted.
As the culture turns away from organized faith, it appears to diminish and deride worship as well. We can see this among people who used to call the church a home. We know that the human body itself cannot function without rest. Neither can the human mind. Binge-watching television, youtube, or tiktok, isn’t resting, or relaxing. It is, in so many words, medicating. It is helping us bury our lack of rest.
I wonder if many people are so leery of rest and so leery of a set time of difference, that times of gathered singing, praise, prayer, and thoughts (i.e., sermon or homily), are to be avoided. It may be that we are watching even many of whom were thought to be Christian walk away from gathered worship because it is different. And we avoid the different, and different includes worship and rest.
Whether it is the drive to make money, for person or corporation, would have fill our lives with activity without rest, we can see that we do not value rest, and that we are no different than pharaoh and looking at rest and worship it’s nothing more than laziness.
We can see it in the old (in internet age) FOMO (fear of missing out) and YOLO (you only live once). FOMO has fear in its name. YOLO is really the same, just with a positive twist. It seems we almost might fear rest.
Whether we’re looking at the world or reading the Word, fear is not always fully understood (or desired to be understood). The fear noted in Romans may seem different that the fear of FOMO and YOLK, but the fear is still fear. The paarticular type of fear of YOLO and FOMO can lead to parents, meaning well, burying their children in activities so that they don’t miss out on something. What if my child is a hidden talent? What if my child is the greatest gift to humanity in something? They must know!
However, perhaps they are missing out on what is most needed, us. What if, too, we keep them busy because we are to fearful of rest? True rest.
⁜ Reflection ⁜
- How do you view and experience rest? How does worship (gathered singing, praise, prayer, and thoughts) fit into that?
- Who in your circle of influence do you see as needing rest? How can you encourage them to take rest?
- What activities in yourself and others do you see as attempting to be rest, but actually aren’t?
⁜ Prayer ⁜
Jesus, you didn’t call us to work to the bone. You called yourself the Lord of the Sabbath while telling your disciples that Sabbath was made for humanity. Help us to continue to recover what it means to rest as was intended for us, not for how we see it. Give us the courage to say, “no” and help us not self-condemn when we seek rest. Amen.