We are coming to the close of the season of HallowThanksMas. It begins the last week of October and extends until Christmas Day. At the end of October the children are loaded up on sugar that doesn't seem to leave their systems until early January. Shopping centers have Christmas decorations up in mid-October, and then the materialistic press to buy more and more sets in.
A large majority of Americans consider Sunday the most enjoyable day of the week, according to a 1998 Gallup poll. Few Century readers would wish for a different answer. However, as autumn once again evokes rueful ministerial jokes about ending worship in time for the congregation to get home for the football game, some may think that Sunday has become a little too enjoyable.
When I was a child I could hardly wait for Wilhelm Roepke, my grandfather, to arrive at our farm. Though he had formally “retired” after a lifetime of farming in Poland, Germany and southern Alberta, he couldn’t stay away from the fields and the barns. His fields and animals had a hold on him, a pull that he responded to with affection and care.
Anyone engaging in the practice of Sabbath can expect a rough ride, at least at first. This is because Sabbath involves pleasure, rest, freedom and slowness, and most North Americans are sold on speed, productivity, multitasking. Stopping for one whole day can feel like a kind of death.
My instructor in Sabbath-keeping was not a professor or a spiritual director, but a foreman at the East Chicago Inland Steel plant named Mike Paddock. His wife was the treasurer of the tiny congregation I served as a student pastor, and she wrote my salary check twice a month.
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