It's Not Just a Good Idea: It's the Law
By John Edgerton
March 14, 2023
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
~Exodus 20:8-10 NRSV
Self-care is sweeping the nation. And no, I don’t mean the actual practice of self-care. I mean that the idea of self-care is sweeping the nation. Whether it’s taking naps, eating a good breakfast, or going on mental-health walks, self-care is something I’m supposed to be doing more of.
Great. I’ll add that right to the top of the pile of things I need to be doing more of.
That is what is so radical about the sabbath commandment. This commandment is not directed at me personally. No one person can keep a holy sabbath on their own. A holy sabbath implicates the entire organization of communal life. A holy sabbath is one where no one is made to work, not even beasts of burden. A holy sabbath is one where people are able to thrive because their value is not measured in dollars or invoices.
It's not an easy thing to accomplish. Nor does it come naturally. Given a choice between sabbath and self-care, I would probably choose self-care because it’s easier. And, by so doing, I would choose loneliness over community. Peace and quiet over justice. So thank heaven that Sabbath is not optional. Thank heaven this commandment was literally carved in stone by the finger of God.
The Sabbath. It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.
Prayer: God, thank you for the gift of the Law.