I got nothin’.
This is the fourth attempt I’ve made at a monthly newsletter article in the past 24 hours. To paraphrase from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, each of the first three articles sank into the swamp (or burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp). I’m hoping this fourth one stays up.
Every summer, Kristin and I look forward to the end of school and a change in schedule with some anticipation. Yay! Things will slow down! Days are longer! We’ll go camping! Then every summer goes exactly the same as the summer before it: we over-schedule ourselves, forget that we actually have jobs to do on top of all the extra stuff, run out of time to do all the things we want to do, and wind up as exhausted in August as we were in May. I’d love to say it will be different this year, but I’m looking at the calendar and I don’t see it happening. Again.
God does not intend for life to be a continual, frazzled run from one thing to the next. While I was in San Antonio this week, I had the chance to hear a sermon and a lecture from Dr. Walter Brueggeman, one of the preeminent Old Testament scholars in America today. I was reminded of the lecture I heard him give in January 2009, when he was Theologian-in-Residence at the UCC church in Ames. At that time, Dr. Brueggeman was working on his book Sabbath as Resistance, in which he argued that the constant demand of production and consumption in 21st century American life was every bit as enslaving as Israel’s generations in slavery in Egypt as told in the book of Exodus. In an environment where the Egyptians demanded production without cessation, Brueggeman argues, God created a law of Sabbath which was intended to break the cycle of unceasing labor. Sabbath was not instituted to be one more demand on a servant people: it was instituted for the benefit of the people. Without time for rest and re-creation, Brueggeman argues, we are less than God means for us to be. Ferris Bueller was right: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Then you sit down to write your monthly article and you realize you haven’t done much in the way of looking around, and you get what I got: nothin’.
I know you’re all just as busy as we are - some of you even more so. I know that sometimes the luxury of stopping is just not possible. But as we enter this summer, I invite you, for your own benefit, to consider how you could find sabbath for yourself before your well runs dry like mine did today. Turning nothing into something, after all, is what God does - in seminary the fancy Latin phrase we use to describe it is creation ex nihilo. It’s not what we were meant to do. It’s beyond us. So, before your something turns into nothing, schedule nothing for yourself so you can look around and consider the somethings all around you and how God has made them all. Blessings, friends!
Yours in Christ,