by Dan Martella, retired pastor
By the seventh day God has finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
In one of my favorite episodes of the Andy Griffith Show, the story is told of a wealthy businessman named Malcolm Tucker, whose car breaks down one Sunday morning just outside of Mayberry.
Walking into town, Tucker meets Sheriff Andy Taylor just as he is coming out of church. Andy offers to help, but also lets him know that it is almost impossible to get anything done in Mayberry on Sundays.
Sure enough, when they get the car towed to the gas station, Wally refuses to fix it until Monday. Things grow even more exasperating for Tucker when he can’t get on the phone, because the elderly Mindelbright sisters tie up the party line every Sunday afternoon.
Suddenly the man explodes. He goes into a screaming tirade about how the people of Mayberry shut down the whole town just because two old ladies’ feet fall asleep while the rest of the world is rushing into the space age.
Through it all, Andy and Barnie relax on the porch as they quietly sing Church in the Wildwood.
Just as Malcolm Tucker begins to calm down, Gomer pulls into the driveway with a fully repaired car and doesn’t even charge, simply because the clogged fuel line was really nothing, and because it was a privilege to work on such a fine car.
Suddenly Malcolm Tucker realized that everything he hates about Mayberry is exactly what he needs in his life and decides to put his business on hold and spend the night.
While Seventh-day Adventists are very clear that the biblical Sabbath is on the seventh day of the week and not on the first, we also recognize that there is a lot of Malcolm Tucker in us.
We are people in a hurry.
A few generations ago, life moved with simple agrarian or farming rhythms. Now we race through our days. Once upon a time we went to bed with the setting of the sun and rose at the crack of dawn.
Now we live 24/7 and figure we will sleep when we die. We move through our days at warp speed. We measure success by all the wrong metrics. We have become human doings instead of human beings. We are utterly exhausted. All shriveled up from the inside out.
More than ever, we need Sabbath.
In the creation story, Jesus lavishes three life-giving gifts upon the Sabbath experience.
First of all, the gift of rest.
In Genesis 2:2 we read that God…rested…from all his work. The Hebrew words here picture a shift in gears where we move from the hurried life to the delighted life. Where we delight in God’s creation, good food, the marriage bed, family and friends, and the worship of our Creator.
The second gift is found in the Sabbath is God’s blessing.
In Genesis 2:3 it says God blessed the seventh day. In the creation story there are three things that God blesses: Animals, humans, and the Sabbath. All three have the God-given capacity to procreate – to begat life. Life through the week can leave us depleted. Sabbath is how we recharge. How we get our lives back again.
The third gift the Creator brings to the Sabbath is holiness.
Genesis 2:3 also tells us that Go blessed the seventh day and made it holy. The means the Sabbath is special. Different from any other day of the week. Worthy of our respect, deference, and devotion. When we celebrate the Sabbath and spend the whole day with Jesus, we become whole. We become holy.
The Sabbath invites us back to our own Mayberry found in the Genesis creation story where life is easy, people are real, and everyone enjoys the quiet rhythms and virtues of life.
What’s more, the Sabbath invites us to find our place in our ultimate hometown with Jesus in Heaven, forever and always.
There are so many creative ways to enjoy the Sabbath. Create a family bucket list of Sabbath activities you enjoy or want to try. Need inspiration? Here's one blog post - with lots more ideas just a Google search away!
Lord, We are grateful that You embedded rest into the rhythms of life when You created the world. Rest is the capstone of Your creativity. You sat back, relaxed, and said, "This is good." Prompt our hearts, Lord, to continually marvel in Your creative works, from the light You speak into existence to the intricate work of our lives to the joy of resting together in You. Amen.