‘…in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.’ – Exodus 20; 11From Martin Hayward:
An old friend of mine who never went far from his roots used to tell people that his holiday destination was “Stop-at-‘ome”; the modern equivalent is to talk about going on a “staycation”. I guess that this year it will be the common holiday for many of us. So how do we square that with the Biblical commands about holidays?
Rest is an important topic in Christian life even beyond the specific commandment about resting one day in seven. We read, for instance, in Deuteronomy 16, that the Israelites were told to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year for the major festivals. This meant that whole families would leave their fields or businesses behind for over a week (taking into account travel time) to worship the Lord along with the rest of the nation. The holidays served the purposes of building fellowship but they also helped to mark the passage of the year. They were something to look forward to and get excited about.
We know that Jesus approved of vacations too. Luke tells us that when the disciples returned from their mission work of preaching and healing the sick, Jesus took them to a quiet town called Bethsaida, to rest. He himself regularly withdrew to rest from ministry and to be solitary. (e.g. Matthew 14:13; Luke 5:16).
And so we modern day Christians should not feel guilty about taking regular holidays; in fact it’s more of a problem to NOT take holidays since they are of utmost importance to our health and well-being as humans. But what about this year when each day is morphing into the next and many of us are longing for some positive action in our lives not just another rest?
Well firstly it could be the year when Keeping Sunday Special really comes back into its own. Even if we can’t physically meet as church we can join in via Zoom and, above all, take time to pray and read the Bible and commentaries or other helpful Christian books… spend Sundays like Granny used to! Wear best clothes even if you’re on your own; phone friends and family in order to listen to how they are. Pray for them.
But secondly, I’m going to suggest that this year we make special effort to think about next year’s holidays! Is now the time to decide to change the pattern and go to a Christian festival such as the Keswick Convention or Spring Harvest instead of your usual haunts? Could you think of taking someone else with you who doesn’t normally get away?
Let’s use this year’s enforced “staycation” creatively and to God’s glory both now and for the future.