by Pastor Mike Middaugh
Over the past few days I enjoyed a chance to get away and separate from the normal routine. In spite of a rough departure (3 hours in a plane on the ground waiting out a storm) it was a much needed opportunity to break from daily life and regular activities. Sandi and I spent time in the sun and I got exercise in a variety of water sports with my brother.
It’s no secret that most of us find ourselves longing for these chances to vacate our normal locale and everyday activities. Perhaps this is a luxury and blessing of the modern world and our country that many of us have expendable income and time, but the ability and desire to take a break is something most of us would say we need. (Perhaps, especially around the busyness of DC?)
I think there is a Biblical tie-in here as well. One of the spiritual revelations during my seminary years was one professor’s focus on the eighth day. You are familiar, I am sure with Genesis’ seven day creation narrative. God created the heavens, earth and mankind in six days. On the seventh he rested. This Divine day of rest then became the basis for God’s gift of the Sabbath. It was a law (or was it gospel) given to His people in the book of Exodus which commanded they break from work on the seventh day of the week – traditional Saturday for the Jewish people. This day of rest was given so the people could find peace in not working, but also peace in God’s presence. For the Jewish nation, coming out of slavery in Egypt, this day revealed a stark contrast between life as slaves and life as the people of God.
This Sabbath tradition continued through the Old Testament and was even adopted by other cultures. In spite of this gift however, God’s people never found true peace. Trouble continued, wars were waged, life was still not perfect. Then, in the New Testament something happens. The gospels each build up to, and point us towards, the cross. We see the seven day passion narrative unfold beginning with the triumphal entry, climaxing in the cross, and then, following the historic tradition, Saturday becomes a day of rest as Christ is in the tomb.
But something changes. There is another day! An eighth day becomes part of the story and it is something new. The resurrection does not follow any historic pattern or tradition. It takes place on Sunday and Christ ushers in a new era – a more perfect glimpse into the kingdom of God. We were not created just for one day of rest, but to live within the rest and peace of forgiveness made possible by the cross.
This is a kingdom of now and not yet. Today our hope is firm, our Joy is real, but we know life will not be perfect; we await the completeness of being in God’s presence.
As I was out fishing in Florida I would like to say I reflected on all of these Holy and precious revelations. In fact, I just enjoyed being in the moment; the tug on the end of the line a simple joy. But I know looking back that hours like those are a gift from a God who is responsible for something far better which is yet to come.
Note: “Created for the Eighth Day” was also published on the Sojourners “God’s Politics” Blog which you can view here: http://sojo.net/blogs/2013/06/19/created-eighth-day