Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash
Scottish Presbyterians do not have the best reputation when it comes to the application of the biblical command to keep the Sabbath. Growing up, once we actually bought a tiny black and white family set, I remember the TV being banned on a Sunday. At the time it seemed unfair, now I would relish peace from the blaring soundbars and HD technicolor which surround me as I write.
Despite our distaste for Scottish sabbatarianism, we could probably learn a lot from the concept of Sabbath. There is a beauty in rest from work, consumption and frenetic activity. Many of us are experiencing this as the only upside of the Covid lockdown.
Apparently the environment is also benefitting from the holiday from our overconsumption. Before Covid-19, I remember a sense of helplessness in facing a reported environmental catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions. But it turns out we can actually stop the destruction, if we want to.
Some question the validity of the Old Testament today, and yet within its pages are relevant commands to cease activity. And it’s not just for the benefit of people; the much maligned book of Leviticus commands that the land deserves a Sabbath for the whole of every seventh year! The book of Deuteronomy also encourages inefficient harvesting to leave food for immigrants and the oppressed.
Our idolatry of profit, efficiency, increase and consumption, far from indicating an advanced civilisation, reveals a destructive and dehumanising immorality. Before Covid-19 tackling the endemic problems of our world seemed impossible. The post-lockdown world would do well to heed a little ancient and divine wisdom.