Nature’s power was on full display for much of this week in North America. While I prefer to witness God’s grandeur in the form of a horizon full of mountains or the powerful lolling of ocean waves, experiencing temp’s of -24 Fahrenheit with a mind-and-body-numbing wind chill of -50 was AWESOME. I attempted to embrace the cold by taking a long walk each day; my face hurt! Friends from California texted, poked fun, and extolled their warm, wonderful state. I rolled my eyes and pointed out that they still had to go to school and work every day and that Illinois rarely burns.
I’ve been living in Chicago for the past eleven years and can’t remember a week when area schools were shut down three out of five days. I also can’t remember a day when the entire city ground to a halt like it did this past Wednesday. Somewhere during the course of the Wednesday standstill, I had this thought: “This is what the Sabbath is supposed to be like.”
I believe that there’s a theological connection between the unexpected gift of a snow day and what God intends for his people to experience each and every Sunday. In fact, a good snow day is only part of the experience God wants to give us each and every week of our lives.
What do we do on a snow day? First, we smile happily in our beds when we get the news and possibly fall back asleep for a while. For many families, snow days hold the possibility for some bonus fun and play: maybe board games, maybe a trip to the sledding hill or skating at the neighborhood pond, maybe watching a movie that you’ve been wanting to see, maybe catching up on cleaning and reorganizing around the house… A good snow day has a playful element to it.
Additionally, a snow day affords an opportunity to rest: perhaps spending a little quiet time under a cozy blanket with a good book, taking a full-on afternoon nap, or stoking a fire in the fireplace. If you experienced the gifts of rest and play on the same day, you had a great day, indeed!
God desires to give you a third gift each and every Sunday. In addition to rest and play, God also designed us for a pattern of worship on his special day. This the is biblical pattern: Sabbath = Worship, Rest + Play. One out of seven. Enjoy. Repeat.
Likely most of us did not attend organized worship on our snow days (though perhaps our collective prayers of “Thank God!” qualify). From God’s perspective, the worship of the church is like a family gathering. Worship is not only crucial to Sabbath, but it’s the essential starting point. In worship we gather as the family of faith and enjoy the presence of the Giver of all good gifts.
Having sung, prayed, listened, and remembered, we can go forth into the wider world to enjoy the other aspects of Sabbath in a more customized way. This is the biblical pattern (again): Sabbath = Worship, Rest + Play. One out of seven. Enjoy. Repeat.
Whether it’s snowing outside or not, every Sunday can feel like a snow day, only better. I pray you have an awesome Sabbath experience this Sunday as you worship, rest, and play.
Grace and Peace,