Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How Can We Truly Honor the Sabbath?

The theme of the National Council of Churches' Youth Worker Summit that I am currently attending is "We Don't Lose Heart." I assumed going into the event that the theme was a thinly veiled reference to mainline decline and the "graying" of the church. I was wrong. "We Don't Lose Heart" actually refers to the need for sabbath rest.

Sabbath is a common focal point at youth ministry events. Local church ministry (youth or otherwise) is hardwork, and many church professionals feel they don't have enough time to rest, to enjoy fellowship with friends and peers, and to spiritually renew themselves. They're right. But they aren't alone.

Unfortunately, sabbath in our culture is a luxury. Not everyone gets paid vacation; not everyone can pay to leave the kids at a daycare facility or with a baby sitter; not everyone has a place to rest. Ministers, though many are paid less than others with their level of professional training, make decent money compared to much of the population, and most get a reasonably good benefits package that includes a continuing education budget and paid vacation. Most church professionals have some opportunities to get away, to rest, to obey that fourth commandment. Many other working Americans aren't as lucky.

Maybe a true commitment to observing sabbath should involve advocating for mandatory paid vacation for full-time workers. (Joe Robinson of the Work to Live campaign says, "The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world without paid vacation laws on the books.") Since many congregations run preschools and daycare facilities, the church is also in a unique position to provide affordable childcare to low-income parents for whom not having anyone to watch the kids is a barrier to rest and renewal.


Blogger People for a Shorter Workweek said...

Yup, we NEED a mandatory vacation law for American workers! See my blog for more information. I also run the Work to Live Yahoo group. Come join us!

11:09 PM  

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