September 4, 2020
Sabbath Keeping

by Dr. Oliver Wagner
“And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the works that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it….” - Genesis 2:2-3
It’s Labor Day weekend. Enjoy! But be safe and careful when it comes to traveling. And be sure to avoid large crowds and remain mindful of public health concerns. Dr. Fauci says so…and he’s right! For most of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer. Just as Memorial Day kicked off the summer, so Labor Day ends it. But that, of course, is not its true or original purpose!

Labor Day was established in 1894 as a day set aside to pay tribute to working men and women, honoring the importance of the labor movement in improving wages and working conditions in our country. On Labor Day I recall that Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis on April 4, 1968 to march for better pay and conditions for that city’s sanitation workers. Work is a gift, to be sure, and those who are gainfully in these days are grateful for the blessing of work. I remind you that in paradise (The garden of Eden) there is not a lazy boy chair, but work to be done….”The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” From my brief experience, farming is hard work. And it can’t be done without breaks and rest.

In addition to the gift of labor, in this devotional I want to name the importance of Sabbath rest. Walmart and Amazon may operate 24-7, but that’s not for you and me. We need rest and renewal. We need time to remember and reflect. We need to take God up on committing a good chunk of our time to rest, pray and be renewed. After all, didn’t Jesus command us to “consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air”?  Be sure in the midst of these trying days in a culture of “everything all the time” to take time to do just that. The great “I Am” invites you to “simply be.” Do that and your soul will thank you!
Giver of life, labor and rest, we pray that you will refresh us this day in your abiding, gracious, sustaining and renewing presence. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009