A theology professor pointed out to a class of eager students an instructive way to think about the Sabbath. Compare these two stories, he said, about Big Work Projects. In the first book of Exodus, we read of how a Pharaoh in Egypt enslaved God's people and forced them to work on the construction of two cities. It was a bitter experience. Hard work made even harder because it was forced upon them.
But there is another story in Exodus, towards the end of the book. By this time, Moses has led the people out of bondage in Egypt and they are on their way to the Land of Promise. They begin work on a Big Project, the construction of a Tabernacle in which they will worship God. It was an exquisitely beautiful work of art, with colorful tapestries and gold fixtures. Though the work was hard, it was joyful.
This is the meaning of Sabbath, said the professor. When we are working out of the love in our hearts on Big Projects given to us by God, even our work is restful.
Reflection Questions What part of your work is drudgery, forced upon you? Who or what enslaves you?
What part of your work is joyful, an assignment given to you by God that employs your best gifts?
What is something you'd like to commit to in the next six months that would be the kind of work that brings you pure Sabbath rest?