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For the last few weeks I’ve been encouraging us to think about what it might look like to reboot our lives as the lockdown measures begin to ease. This sense of rebooting is rooted in three values, the first was around community and how we prioritise our connection to one another. The second was around the kind of pace of life we set, and how we balance work and rest. The last value was around shifting from simply considering small tweaks in life to imagining a whole new way of being, one that could lead to a lasting sense of change and fulfillment.
So last week we focused on some possible new rhythms or hallmarks of the kind of community we could aspire to build. This week I want to talk about the kind of pace of life we might set on the other side of lockdown.
In the 1930s the British economist, John Maynard Keynes, predicted that by 2030, the work week for people in “progressive countries” would be cut drastically, maybe to as few as 15 hours per week, due to the advancement in technology and automation. But, the truth is, those advancements have actually had the opposite effect. Instead of working less, we are actually working more, and often not taking breaks or all of the holiday we earn, and with a smart phone in everyone’s pocket we rarely switch off at all. The knock on effects of this pace of life leads to increased levels of depression, anxiety, and other more serious physical conditions like high blood pressure.
The must read book of 2020 has to be John Mark Comer’s book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. The title of this book comes from a conversation John Ortberg had with Dallas Willard. He asked Willard, a well respected philosopher, what he should do as a busy pastor to be spiritually healthy? After a long pause, Willard said at last, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” To which John replied, “Okay, I’ve written that one down.” Then, a little impatiently said, “That’s a good one. Now what else is there?” John recalls, “I had many things to do, and this was a long-distance call, so I was anxious to cram as many units of spiritual wisdom into the least amount of time possible.” There was another long pause and Willard finally replied “There is nothing else. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
Carl Jung once said “Hurry isn’t of the devil, it is the devil.” And the truth is the vast majority of us, pre-lockdown, lived lives of hurry and busyness. The Theologian Robert Banks points out that our society is rich in things, but poor in time. Hurry is a sickness that plagues us.
And yet, as many of you have reflected to me, lockdown, although stressful at times, has actually helped to set a totally new pace of life. So the challenge is what are we going to go back to? Will we just jump back on the hamster wheel of hurry and busyness or will we choose to carry over some of the new habits we’ve learnt? One practice we could all carry over is the practice of Sabbath. And, in the 21st century, the practice of Sabbath is a practice of resistance.
In his book Sabbath as Resistance, Walter Brueggemann writes “In our own contemporary context of the rat race of anxiety, the celebration of Sabbath is an act of both resistance and alternative. It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods.”
As we enter life on the other side, what would it look like for you and your household to practice Sabbath as Resistance, as a practice that says to the cultural pace of life around us, “no I’m not God and if I stop the world will keep spinning?”
Grace and peace
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