Sabbath for the Earth

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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.

Church in flux

We have been exiled, banished from the streets and sent into hiding. Everyday things, like toilet roll, are now rarities and meeting for coffee, is forbidden. We’re not even allowed to go to Church!

And yet Church continues in phone calls, video meetings and YouTube vlogs. The established structures we have been reluctant to change have been forcibly altered and in some ways we are better for it.

The mantra ‘Church is the people’ is now the parable in which we live. The building, the new carpet, the favourite seat and pew are gone. The packaging has been removed and we are left with a gift we don’t yet appreciate.

The question is not, what do we do now, but what will we do when we return? What will this exiled pilgrimage teach us about our priorities?

 

 

Dave