And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3)
Scripture teaches that rest is built into the fabric of creation. It is part of the rhythms of life that are grounded in who God is and how God works. These things are then seen as “blessed” and “hallowed,” words that speak to the sense that Sabbath is more than just a good idea – it is a sacred one.
Studies of Americans show that sleep deprivation is a serious issue. People work too much, stay up too late, and sleep too little. Binge sleeping on a Saturday to catch up isn’t enough. Rest is important and sleep enhances the body’s ability to recover and to function well.
We often ascribe words to God like “almighty” and “omnipotent” or phrases like “the most high.” They are word that describe how strong and amazing God is. Yet scripture paints a more nuanced picture of God. Yes, God is amazing and capable of much – perhaps anything. But at the same time, God is not able or perhaps simply not willing, to just take care of everything and work all the time. After something big like creating the world, God steps back and takes a break.
God sees this act as a sacred beginning to the way we created creatures should structure our lives. Working all the time without a break is exhausting. Working all the time means too little time to step back and take stock of what is. Working every day limits our ability to recover and eventually weakens us. We need rest and we need to build it in routinely and with regularity.
One of the ways church life helps us with this is by calling faithful people to gather each week. By ordering our week in this way, we ensure that our attention will not be on work but on something else. We are reminded who we are and whose we are. And then we are sent out to return to the world of Monday through Saturday life where we do the work of God before stopping, resting and renewing again next week.
Sabbath refreshes and provides a rhythm to our lives. God needed the break. God knows we do too.