Responding to Parade magazine’s article …
And I heard him murmur … ‘isn’t that a load of crap…’
For over a couple of decades now, I’ve grown accustomed to my Sunday morning wake-up ritual. Ritual is good on any day but my Sunday ritual is different from the rest of the days of the week. It goes like this…
The alarm goes off at 5:00 AM. Coffee pot goes on and I begin to pray… pray that the newspaper delivery guy has tossed the Houston Chronicle on my driveway as I stumble out of the front door into the dark. (NOTE: the paper is always there way early on weekdays…but I’ve recognized he has a tendency, like many, to sleep in on Sunday… thus my fervent prayer!) Then comes the coffee, the banana, the bowl of multi-grain cereal and the digging inside “The Chron” for 2 essential reads— the Sports section and the Parade magazine. Check the scores. Read Walter Scott’s Personality Parade section (which has really deteriorated in the last 18 months…just sayin’!) and then on to the ‘Ask Marilyn’ column which now includes not only answers to great questions from the so-called smartest woman on the planet but the “Numbrix” puzzle as well. Pacing my way, about 45 minutes later I’m pretty alert to meet the rest of the morning and the rest of the day. After all, Sunday is the only day preachers work and a half-a-day at that!
But, this past Sunday, it wasn’t the Houston Astros actually beating the SF Giants on the road or the dumb question about Christie Brinkley being a vegetarian that captured my attention… it was the front cover of the Parade magazine … the front cover carrying the headline… are you ready for this? … “Our Guide to TAKING BACK YOUR WEEKEND! The underscore said… “Help is on the way!” And before I even turned the page… I sensed the murmuring in my head and heart… shouting out… you better read this…quick! I did.
But, before I respond let’s remember a couple of things…being that I am somewhat of “set apart” religious guy…I need to put a perspective on the table… and re-telling you a short story about Jesus… This is from the 2nd chapter of Mark’s gospel…
23 One Sabbath day he was walking through a field of ripe grain. 24 As his disciples made a path, they pulled off heads of grain. The Pharisees told on them to Jesus: “Look, your disciples are breaking Sabbath rules!” 25 Jesus said, “Really? Haven’t you ever read what David did when he was hungry, along with those who were with him? 26 How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, with the Chief Priest Abiathar right there watching – holy bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat – and handed it out to his companions?” 27 Then Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath. 28 The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath. He’s in charge!” (The Message)
It’s a great re-telling of the reason why God told Moses to tell the people… ‘remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy!” The Sabbath is holy all by itself… whether we celebrate it and live in it or not. And Jesus understood Sabbath’s purpose and value as Luke recorded that there was a time when Jesus went to his own home town of Nazareth and “went into the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was his custom.” So, when I see a headline that says, “taking back your weekend,” I am quick to murmur and say, “it never was your weekend in the first place!”
God never got a weekend. The story of God tells us that he went to work on the first day and put some good things into motion. The second day was important but wasn’t as good as the first. In fact, it was painful as things (the water) got separated from itself, but God kept on. Four more ‘good’ days later the whole cosmos was in high gear! (NOTE: Did you ever notice how the scientists don’t believe in a 6 day creation but yet the sequence of the 6 days of creation echo their own chart of how things came to be from a disordered chaos to humans as the last and most influential piece to the story?) And after six days of creative work God rested. He didn’t get a weekend as he went back to work the next day and the cosmos continues to pulse and juke up and down and back and forth out to the edges where nothing is but where God has always been! So, I’m asking, if God never got a weekend how can we “take OUR weekend back? And that’s my point…when Parade magazine asks the question in this fashion an understanding prevails that we’re in charge. So, go back to Jesus’ question… “was the Sabbath made for humanity to serve or was the Sabbath created to serve us?” I like Jesus’ logic.
Now don’t get me wrong…I’m all in favor of rest… and even a good day’s work from time to time, but when Parade magazine has to write an article to help the people of our culture put their lives in a good order…then something is … as our old friend Elmer Fudd used to say… ” VEW-WY SQUEW-WY”… as fewer and fewer people are asking, “How’d we get here in the first place?” And, yet, I do want to thank the good folks at Parade for giving the old college try to at least take a look! It’s a good start…
So, without going into all the details of the article, let me say they shared a glimpse into the ‘hurried’ lives of a couple named Mark & Tara from Virginia. Just reading the list of their weekend was exhausting! Stuff for adults, sleepovers and practices and games for their kids, basement clean-up work, laundry chores and the kicker… ‘and church.’ Let’s give God his due here, right? ‘Cause if I’m gonna go down in flames over the weekend, I want to make sure I spend an hour with God and hanging out with some of his favorite friends… give me a break… and that’s the kinder version of ‘isn’t that a load of crap…?” This is the crux of the problem… “going to church” is viewed here as just another piece of the pie of our lives…like chores, going to practice or a sleepover…instead of a practiced faith… the actual pie pan that holds our hurried lives intact and from falling all over the place…
But, I must take some of the blame for folks clinging to this form of selfish, over-indulged life-style and not being as vigilant as others might like about how we keep our lives …centered… balanced… and focussed on what is truly good for each of us and others… do you see the distinction here? And is this the task of Parade magazine or is this at the core of the teachings of the followers of Jesus and perhaps one of the most important things we do?
And… there’s more… here’s the “remedy” list for the hurried life… and not in any order of importance…I hope…
“Don’t save the weekend for the ‘avalanche’ of chores… do a little at a time from Monday – Friday” Wasn’t there an old song about this… “Monday wash day…etc?
“Don’t have ‘date night’ on weekends only.” They must have consulted Dr. Phil!
“Do your planning on mid-week, not Sunday night.” Actually, it doesn’t matter what night you do the next week’s planning… as long as you keep doing it!
“Keep your weekend expectations REALISTIC.” Maybe that’s just a general problem…expecting the sun and the stars and getting the moon! An old pastor friend of mine was said, “your frustrations are = your expectations.” So true!
“Separate yourself from your children’s activities.” EX: Just because your daughter wants to ride horses for 2 horses doesn’t mean you have to stay the whole time. Go get a Starbucks in the middle of that 120 minute window. You’re kidding? Tell that to your daughter who just kicked the go-ahead goal just before half-time of the soccer match or your son who stole the basketball to make the winning basket. Sheeesh… and my favorite…
“Tell your co-workers you wont be checking email over the weekend.” Is that a rule? You have to check your e-mail when you go home from work for the time away from work? Well, golly… I never got that e-mail!
So, are you disgusted yet? Tired? Good thing Parade magazine isn’t developing foreign policy or trying to balance the budget or get the news media to publish the truth of the news vs. making up the news…
So, while you think about throwin’ some chicken on the grill this Labor Day weekend, here’s a different list to consider…
God has a good plan for you… work at your work, let your play refresh you and allow your worship to keep that relationship in a proper perspective!
Every day is a day you can work, worship and play. Pace yourself.
Know that you are going to be like everyone else someday—dead. No hurt or fear intended here… just saying this so you can begin to determine from this moment forward what is truly important and good for you and others. EX: Does is really matter to you what Kim Kardashian is up to? Other than her husband, family and friends, you gotta know the answer…
Learn to live with incompleteness! God did not stop creating after six days…he just took a break and went back to work on the 8th day…and when it comes to God and us… there is a HUGE difference… he is the one who never sleeps nor slumbers… and has to… to be able to deal with fallible folks like us!
I’m not taking back the weekend this first few days of September… I don’t need to … each day’s a gift… but I am going to relax…play with my family, talk to some friends, BBQ a bit and go to worship on Sunday… sleep in on Monday, and then go back to work on Tuesday… hopefully more refreshed than how I feel right now as I input this sentence…
I hope that for you, too!
So, shalom to you… God’s desire for your life to be centered, balanced and focussed on what is important and good for you and those around this day and the next!