I was watching a special on the History Channel about angels (it was part of a greater show on the supernatural). As is the case, I couldn’t help but begin to think and ponder.
What accounts for all the anger and horror in the world around us? Where are the angels? Can they come if we refuse to believe in them? What accounts for the darkness in human hearts as the world becomes more and more secular? Why are people turning to drugs for comfort rather than to the Light of Love? I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I do know that wherever the light is, the darkness tries to snuff it out.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. –John 1:5 (NRSV)
Perhaps all the terrible things that are happening are, indeed, a sign that the Light is about, that more and more uf us are turning to this forebearing and yet ferocious power who pushes us into what we don’t think we can do, and who gives us courage we never dreamed we had.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. –John 1:9 (NRSV)
I take the devil and his machinations seriously indeed. One thing which we can count on the devil to do is to take the original good which God created, and try to make something ugly out of it. Sometimes he succeeds – though that does not make the orginal good any less good. There are people today who play with the powers of love, who take them trivially, who seek easy answers.
There are no easy answers, but I think we need to be aware that if we deny the world beyond the world of technology and provable fact, we do so to our peril. There is something greater than all we see around us. Where are all the angels, indeed?
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”, goes one of the Ten Commandments. The sabbath is one day every week, a time set aside for not working, but resting, and for attending to one’s faith in God. In our daily living in this world, we can get tricked into measuring our own value and those around us by what we accomplish, either in quality or quantity. But neither quality nor quantity are the measure of a person. We are measured by a different stick, the one a loving God uses for God’s children. Sabbath is not a time for running away, but for regaining perspective, and taking the time for worship of the One on whom our value depends, and being with others who are doing the same thing.
But how does one keep a Sabbath? Some hints :
- Turn off your cell phone and your computer. Use your car as little as you can get away with, getting rid of those piddly car trips for little things, especially when you can do the task by walking or biking. And (biting the hand that feeds me) keep your computer off as much as you can. This will give you the time and freedom to be a carbon-based life form among other carbon-based life forms. This all by itself will cause the day to seem like something special.
- If you’re a business person or are in charge of some ongoing activity, start keeping Sabbath by way of the art of delegation. Entrust others who do not observe sabbath (or do so on a different day) with the work that needs to be done on the Sabbath. And, while you can’t account for everything, plan ahead so that as little as possible is left to do that can’t be done the next day.
- DO NOT USE THE SABBATH TO PLAN AHEAD FOR THE UPCOMING WEEK. (This is one of the top temptations for people of today’s world.) The world will still be there tomorrow, God will still be in charge of it, and you still won’t be.
- Spend some time worshipping God with others. (I know some of you cringe at this, but for the most part this means go to church.) Sing. Study. Pray. Laugh. And spend at least some of your time doing the things that help to keep the faithful flock faithful and strong.
- Let go of the angers you’ve piled up over the week. Including the ones that crop up on the Sabbath, as they inevitably do. And practice praying about anything you’re worried about. Trust God to deal with it all.
- If you have a family, spend the rest of your time with them, with ample one-on-ones and full-family group activities. They are God’s greatest gift to you aside from life itself, so be God’s great gift for them. Discover what they’re thinking and feeling. Maybe you can be with your parents or grandparents, honoring them as God commanded.
- Or perhaps you’re single. Make visits to friends, and plan to do things with them. Invite people over for a dinner or barbecue or a sports get-together or a jam session. (But be easy on the brew, please.)
- If you have that someone special, do something special with him/her. Building love is the holiest of tasks.
- Say Hi! to someone you don’t know, and have a chat with them.
- Do something good for someone else. Preferably someone you don’t want to do good for.
- Relax. Sit by the pool, or on the porch. Take a nap. Read a good book or watch a video, especially one which will help enrich or build your faith. Maybe take a stroll, to nowhere in particular. Sabbath is a day of rest, so why do you do so little actual resting?
The Sabbath was not meant for running away. Human needs still happen around us on the Sabbath. God may have rested in creating the world, but the world does not rest. (Perhaps that might explain the law of entropy (in physics), in which all things tend toward inertia or inactivity: the world’s merely getting tired from having no rest.) Some Pharisees were watching Jesus closely to see whether Jesus would heal a leper on the Sabbath. He did, of course. When confronted with the man’s need, He had to act somehow. It would have been unGodly not to heal the man. Those Pharisees who were there at the scene thought otherwise, even though some teachers in their own part of the Jewish tradition held that there was no day that was wrong for doing good if the opportunity presented itself. They showed a loss of perspective and a hardness of heart. Let us be as Jesus in practicing the Sabbath, not as those Pharisees found in Mark 3.