March 24 - 30, 2008
As a pastor, I worked on Easter Sunday from the Sunrise service at 6:45 a.m. until about 1 p.m., when I locked the church. But driving home, I noticed something very interesting: Almost everybody else was not working. The day was a true Sabbath, a day of rest from work for lots and lots of people. Even the local Wal-Mart was closed ALL DAY LONG!
The empty parking lots and light traffic reminded me of life as a boy in the 1970s, when Sunday was not just another Saturday, but a day when most of the stores were closed. I remember it as a quieter time. I remember the gentle Sunday rhythm of church in the morning, lazy afternoons at home, then Sunday dinner in the early evening.
Nowadays all the stores and all the entertainment places are open seven days a week, and the mantle of specialness that used to mark Sunday has diminished considerably. Even those of us who wish to keep the Sabbath Day holy can find the world's busy-ness creeping into our Sabbath the way that lights from a city can block our view of the stars in the sky.
Our oh-so Christian nation reveres the Ten Commandments, and yet it turns a blind eye to the widespread sin of not keeping the Sabbath Day holy. The full text of the commandment spells out clearly that cessation from work is how God wants us to keep it holy. Not only us, but our servants and animals, etc. -- which precludes OUR taking a Sabbath while THEY work for us. No, Sabbath means shut down. So all this commercialism is a sin, and we are suffering as a result -- in pathological levels of stress, sleep deprivation, hypertension and so on.
Driving home on Easter Sunday, past the empty parking lots of the shopping centers and strip malls, let me know just how much our culture has gotten away from quiet Sundays. And how much we need them!
--Rob Blezard, Webmaster and editor
Reprint rights gladly given to congregations for nonprofit, local use. Just include this notice: "Copyright 2006, The Rev. Robert Blezard, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission."
New This Week:
Earth Day Sunday: The Poverty of Climate Change
Thus year tackle one of our world’s most pressing problems – climate change. Many churches plan a creation-centered worship in the spring, so why not have an Earth Day Sunday. The Eco-Justice Program offers a comprehensive free resource, with bulletin inserts, backgrounders, Bible Studies. Lots of good stuff on the theme. Click here for “The Poverty of Climate Change,” from the National Council of Churches of Christ Eco Justice Program. Requires free registration. While your there, check out the other wonderful free materials.
Equipping the Believers as Stewards
This weighty and informative essay gives you the whole scope of the challenge facing Stewardship Committees. Informative reading that can help your congregation plan effectively. Click here for “Equipping the Believers as Stewards,” posted by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.
A Gift to God
“Many pastors and lay leaders have the notion that if they make a point of asking for those gifts to come from the top of people’s income or paychecks, they are going to “turn them off,” and they won’t give as much. That’s just not true!” says columnist Tuck Aaker. In fact, giving is something that needs to be taught by leaders and learnd by members. Click here for “A Gift to God,” from Stewardship Now, the column at ELCA Stewardship Resources.
Are You Dangerously Tired?
OK, pastors and church leaders. Here’s a good question for the days after Holy Week. It has everything to do with your personal stewardship as one leading a congregation. “Dangerous tired is an atmospheric condition of the soul that is volatile and portends the risk of great destruction. It is a chronic inner fatigue accumulating over months (and sometimes years) that doesn't always manifest itself in physical exhaustion.” Click here for “Are You Dangerously Tired?” From Building Church Leaders magazine.