Herald Journal Columns
May 10, 2004 Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Thanks, Mom, for insisting on nap time

By Rev. Sherri L. Sandoz, Bethel Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

With Mother’s Day so close at hand, I find myself reminiscing about life as a very small child.

Without a doubt, Mom was the primary authority in my three-year-old existence. And because she held such power over me, I both loved and despised her for it.

“It’s nap time,” she’d say. Oh, how I detested those three little words.

I hated being interrupted in the middle of play-time. After all, the time I spent playing was a time of great learning and growing. Certainly, the best time for quitting was at “the end” when everything had come to a proper finish.

Nap time always came much too soon and served only to spoil the fun – or so it seemed. Much later, I discovered that knowing when to quit is one of life’s toughest lessons.

Then, one day not so very long ago, I became a mother myself and began to fully appreciate the disciplines my mother so painstakingly taught me. As a pastor, wife, sister, daughter and mother of teens, there are days I’d love to go back to a simpler time – a time when all my needs were met without obligation or responsibility.

Oh, how I’d love to be directed to take a nap. Just take a nap. Won’t someone, anyone, give me permission to stop all activity, this very minute, and rest?

The trouble is, I still don’t know when to quit. Or maybe I’m too good at ignoring the signs. Perhaps I’m just plain guilty of surrendering to the pressures of high performance demanded by today’s busy culture.

But, there is a voice and a directive. It is an authoritative voice, in fact, The Authoritative Voice. Through Moses and the Ten Commandments, the God who created us and ordered the universe, directs us to “Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.”

To keep the sabbath day holy is to keep it separate from the other six days as a sanctuary of time. Sabbath, in Hebrew, simply means “work stoppage.” There is no biblical mention of sabbath as a time for worship, but the fact that it is a “sabbath to the Lord” leaves room for worship as a way of developing that commitment.

According to Walter Brueggemann in his commentary on the book of Genesis, “People are not to live as if all time were their own, to do with as they please . . . [Sabbath] is a divine gift to the world, not a burden . . . It is a religious act with cosmic implications.”

Resting, re-fueling, and generally keeping the sabbath is to participate in God’s intention for the rhythm of creation. Not keeping the sabbath is a violation of the created order. It returns one aspect of that order to chaos.

What we, as God’s creatures, do with the sabbath has cosmic effects. One needs only to participate, for a moment, in the rat race that is the modern world, to realize how the neglect of the sabbath contributes to the spread of chaos.

The mandate is quite clear. We are to be at rest one day out of seven, 24 hours out of every 168. Sabbath time is necessary for the created order and the ordering of our finite, carbon molecule lives.

It is not necessary for sabbath to fall on Sunday, or even Saturday, as is the Jewish observance. Any day out of seven will do.

That seventh day certainly has a way of rolling around quickly, and part of me still resents having to be still. But there is also a real gift in this. I’ve come to realize that when I am finally quiet, I am far more in touch with God’s affirmation of me and His will for my very busy life.

I guess Mom was right all along. Taking a nap was just what I needed. And what I needed to learn.

So if there’s anyone still needing permission to rest, you’ve got it. For your sake and the sake of us all – take a nap.

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