An Uninvited, but Appointed Sabbath

Preface: I wrote this brief message on my Facebook page on Friday, March 13, when I realized that my busy life was going to become very simple and quiet on account of COVID-19. 

Everyone is experiencing the disappointment of loss. No gatherings. No basketball, hockey, concerts, large conferences. Maybe no Olympics and baseball. School closings. Numerous religious groups are already cancelling regularly scheduled worship.

For decades, maybe centuries, we have ignored God’s command to keep a sabbath. Now one has arrived for our own good.

No, God did NOT send coronavrius to make us stop. Viruses and illnesses come and go, and this is a big one.

A sabbath came with it. People in China and Italy understand it very well.

So now we, in the West, have a sabbath, too. I think we need it. We need to just stop. We need to unlearn the popular notion that the world revolves around us and everything we consider important and observe this sabbath, to learn that “it’s not about me.”

I had a chance to keep a sabbath this spring, and I blew it. I needed to take at least two months off after surgery, but I succumbed to the tyranny of what I perceived to be urgent. I have been paying a price for that missed opportunity, and now a new one has arrived.

Not only do we need a sabbath, but the earth we have polluted needs one even more (Lev. 25.4).

How will we emerge from this rest?

Will we still hate one another? Will we still find someone, anyone to blame? Will we come to appreciate a chance to put it all into perspective? Will we “see” the elderly people in our midst, the vulnerable for whom we absolutely must stop now, to honor their dignity? Will we treat the earth with reverent gratitude and learn how to bless it instead of exploiting it?

Our chance to observe the Lord’s sabbath has arrived.

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