“I Like to Sleep in on Sunday!”

If you want to get into a brisk, quickly-degenerating-into-anger, discussion, announce to a fundamentally Christian religious group at large,

“I like to sleep in on Sunday!

Catching the Breeze inspirational original oil painting of woman walking on ocean beach by Steve Henderson licensed wall art home decor at Great Big Canvas, iCanvas, Framed Canvas Art, Art.com, AllPosters.com, and Amazon.com

The Sabbath rest — regardless of what day we get to enjoy it on — is a time of peace, reflection, and rest — both mental and physical. It’s supposed to be a gift, not a burden. Catching the Breeze, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold; licensed home wall art decor at Great Big Canvas, Amazon, Art. com, Allposters, Framed Canvas Art and iCanvas.

“God calls it a day of rest — and that’s what I do. I rest!”

Perhaps, like me, you lost something in the translation, but nowhere in the Bible do we find,

“Thou shalt attend worship service — and Sunday School — on the Sabbath.”

But then again, the Sabbath has always been a point of contention, starting with the actual day on which it is celebrated (although this is an inaccurate term in the light of the way that many people spend the day), and continuing on with what one can, and cannot, do.

This latter issue is one that Jesus, who was instrumental in creating the Sabbath in the first place, got into trouble about all the time. Mark 3 records one case out of many in which Jesus walks into the synagogue on the Sabbath, encounters a sick or hurting person, and heals them.

“Some of (the religious leaders) were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal (the man) on the Sabbath.

“Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save the life or to kill?’ But they remained silent.” (2,4)

Not surprisingly, Jesus in His compassion healed the man. Also not surprisingly, the religious leaders in their following of a father different from the one Jesus talked about, condemned the action. True to the ways and intent of the children of men, the Jewish leaders of Jesus’s day had all sorts of rules and regulations concerning what God meant when He said in Exodus 20:8-10,

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.”

How far could one walk before it became “work”? And if one were carrying something, how much could it weigh before it became a “load” and therefore “work”?

Such were the issues upon which the great men of theological thought bent their mental energy, and as they determined, so also were the people expected to obey. And while we can laugh today at the legalistic inflexibility of their obsessiveness, can we, really?

Because today, on Sunday (or Saturday, for some), it is an expectation that on this day of rest, one must arise and eat quickly, get the entire household dressed nicely, and sail forth toward church service (in a good mood) as a means of fulfilling the obligations of the Sabbath. This, we insist, is what it means to keep the day holy. This is the fulfillment of the Sabbath.

But in point of fact, what is the “obligation” of the day, which was set up before any law, before any 10 commandments, before any temple or sanctuary or church service?

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

God, who is perfect, quite frankly does not need to rest — not the way we do — but in doing so, in setting aside one day out of seven as special and holy and blessed, He gave us a gift that many of us never use the way the Giver intended:

We are to rest.

Maybe we’ll go to church, and afterwards eat out at a restaurant — but if we do so, and we look down upon the waitress because she’s working and she “shouldn’t” be, are we quite possibly missing the whole point of the day?

And then maybe after we leave the restaurant (and a decent tip, one hopes) we head to the grocery store to buy snacks for our evening Bible study, and while we’re being checked out, we look at the checker (who should have been in church!) and say, “After work, why don’t you drop by our small group — because this is the Sabbath, you know, and God tells us we are to honor it,” are we, again, limiting ourselves and God by misinterpreting His intent?

If we, through the blessing of our particular job situation, are able to take the day off — to rest — it can hardly be pleasing to God if we judge others who are not able to have the day off, but would welcome a rest, if the schedule and their income permitted it.

Because that’s what the Sabbath is — a gift given to mankind — an encouragement to the children of men to take one day off, and give that day off to their manservants and maidservants (today we call them “employees”) and not spend our entire life, and seven days a week, focused upon making money.

The Sabbath is not about attending church, it is not about singing songs, it is not about looking down upon people who by choice or necessity are not sitting in the pews next to us –and although there is nothing wrong about attending church on the Sabbath, it is not ultimate intent of the day. The Sabbath is about resting, and being grateful for that rest.

Perhaps our prayer should be, not that everyone come to church on the Sabbath, but that everyone be able to enjoy, one day a week, a healing rest from our labors, a gift from our Father and God.

Please read more on this topic at my Commonsense Christianity article at BeliefNet, How Do You Spend Your Sundays?

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com


About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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8 Responses to “I Like to Sleep in on Sunday!”

  1. Pingback: What Does “Real” Church Look Like? - Commonsense Christianity

  2. Donna Whitfield says:

    Hi Carolyn! Thank you for sharing another thought-provoking message for us to ponder seriously. I agree with your assessment, and like you, don’t have an issue with people being part of a church at all, but don’t believe it’s a healthy pursuit when done the ways that you mention.

    • Thank you, Donna. I think we forget that, when we participate in any group, the main point is not to keep the group going, just for the sake of keeping the group going. We meet for a reason — to learn, to be encouraged, to encourage, to teach, to simply enjoy being with one another — and when that’s not happening, why bother doing it?

  3. Jewell Price says:

    It is an interesting point that when I mention to a Christian friend that I do not “attend” church anymore (as I AM the Church), they almost always point out that we are to told to attend. When I ask where we are told to do that, they are at a loss or use either Hebrews 10:25 (grossly mistranslated) or Matthew 18:20 (where Jesus was talking about confronting one sinning against you NOT meeting as “church”). You are so right that we are to rest–Period. I don’t need to attend a building for that. In fact, my over 40 years of meeting in a building led to high blood pressure, anxiety and stress, boredom, and no real relationships with the people there. The references in the bible referring to meeting together always involved small groups and mostly mentioned homes. Good food for thought.

    • Jewell — it really upsets people who go to church, when they run into Christians who don’t! Like you, I have found people spluttering for words as to why it is commanded, and Hebrews 10:25 is their favorite weapon. I haven’t been attacked by Matthew 18:20 yet, but I do admire the creative twisting of that verse.

      My Norwegian Artist, who was raised as a pastor’s kid, said that he has seen the oddest verses used to support a variety of arguments. Whatever the person’s pet belief was, pretty much any and every verse could be adapted to support it.

      I write this on Monday, after a lovely Sunday of much reading, a deep nap, time with family, and quiet meditation. I remember those church days you mentioned; one of the biggest factors was returning home, after the rush to service, feeling lonely and dissatisfied because everyone else seemed so busy with pre-arranged social activities, except us. Talking with people through the years, I find that this is not an unusual response, and many people return home, lonely, from “fellowship.”

  4. Pingback: What Does “Real” Church Look Like? | This Woman Writes by Carolyn Henderson

  5. Marie says:

    What do you do with the passages…

    Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 11:25
    Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 1 Timothy 4:13

    • Hello, Marie:

      One hears this verse, all the time. Perhaps the problem lies in assuming that the only way to meet together, the only way to assemble, the only way to fellowship and interact — is through conventional church services. For some people this works, or appears to do so. Others are like those who eschew public, government schools (“the only way to school”) for private or homeschool options.

      The important thing is that we meet, converse, love, listen to one another (something that doesn’t happen much in standard church services, I find, as so much time is spent listening to the leaders). We are a family, and like a family, can interact in a myriad of ways and formats, not limiting ourselves to convention.

      It’s also worthy of note that the 1st century Christians did not “worship” in the style that we are accustomed to in the 21st century, and assume to be existence, all the way back through time. There is much freedom and creativity withing Christianity, if we choose to look for and embrace it!

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