10 May 2021 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
As a child, Sabbath was my favorite day of the week. For the majority of my adult life as a church employee, however, Sabbath has felt like another work day: preparing for Sabbath School or worship, rehearsing, cooking for potluck or supervising kids—a lot of work.
Since COVID-19 hit I have had the most blessed, restful and peaceful Sabbaths of my life. Occasionally I miss the fellowship, but mostly I’m just grateful to be free from expectations and obligations. I’m honestly dreading the quarantine being over and having to attend a lifeless church again to maintain my employment.
Aunty, where do I go from here? Now that I’ve had a real Sabbath experience, I don’t want to lose it!
Signed, Holding On to Hope
Dear Holding On,
You need make no apology for celebrating the beauty of the Sabbath at home. In the past year many have realized a Sabbath blessing for the first time in their lives! A day of rest, in the truest sense of that word, is good for the soul
Which is, in fact, the reason the Sabbath was created in the first place. Some scholars say that if you read the Old Testament carefully, the Sabbath was originally only about resting from work—that there was no corporate worship that day until the Babylonian exile and the development of the synagogues.
We should allow ourselves a true physical and mental rest from the normal tasks we are expected to perform other days of the week, and that’s especially true for church employees, who have often been locked in, sometimes all of their lives, to laboring on Sabbath.
But your being an employee also puts you in an especially tough spot. Depending on the flexibility of your congregation, you might be able to get away with skipping church occasionally after Covid restrictions are lifted. But some congregations aren’t gracious. One young teacher confided to me that in her church she got brought in front of the board to explain her absence when she skipped two weeks of church in a row after she had a miscarriage! That is absolutely not okay, and those board members should be utterly ashamed of themselves.
Might you resent your church less if you didn’t feel so many obligations? If you must attend weekly, perhaps you could back off of your church responsibilities. I know a first-grade church school teacher who successfully made the case to the nominating committee that after teaching small children in their school all week, she was decidedly not the person to be stuck in kindergarten and primary Sabbath School on Sabbath morning. She had the skills, of course, but she insisted that she needed adult interaction more than most people.
As silly as it sounds, it helps to have someone to complain to. Everyone needs fully authentic friends, especially church employees who have a hard time finding true friends. Sometimes friends like that can only be found online.
Enjoy your last few weeks of peaceful Sabbath rest at home. And if you want some low-impact Sabbath fellowship, you can find it online—our own Adventist Today Sabbath Seminar, and many other online classes.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without real names. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.