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Faith: The Sabbath also sets boundary between work, life

“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.”

~Walter Brueggemann Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No in Culture of Now

In the past couple of weeks, I became aware of the concept termed “quiet quitting.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, quiet quitting is a mindset on the part of an employee that they will no longer do work outside the bounds of their responsibilities and the time assigned to accomplish them. As you can see this term is a bit of a misnomer. People aren’t packing their personal effects and quietly leaving their jobs, but rather are setting clear boundaries. They are no longer putting in effort or time for which they will not be appropriately recognized. It is drawing a clear line between their vocation as an employee and the time needed to rest and recharge to ward off burnout.

This practice of boundary setting may seem new but it is actually quite similar to the age-old practice of Sabbath. Sabbath today is often thought of as a day set aside for worshipping God, usually on Sunday mornings. This is, of course, a good thing. We ought to gather together. We ought to meet to lift up and encourage one another and to hear God’s words of grace to inspire and strengthen our faith. However, Sabbath is also, at its core, the practice of setting a clear boundary between work and recreation. It is a weekly reminder that we are more than our economic output. Our value is not quantified in dollars.

As Dr. Walter Brueggemann says in the quote above, “[the Sabbath] is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods.” Sabbath then, properly understood, takes on an added countercultural dimension, an act of resistance that keeps the demons of workaholism and economic anxiety at bay.

Don’t misunderstand me, God is not averse to hard work or busy seasons. A life of faith is not one primarily of leisure. However, we would do well to remember that God rested on the seventh day and so should we. It is vital to quietly (or perhaps not so quietly) quit those systems and practices that don’t bring life, that chew us up and spit us out. We ought to take time to recreate or rather have God re-create us. The God who through Jesus truly defines our worth and gives us life.

Writer Pastor CJ Boettcher is the senior pastor at Zion Lutheran Church, 1000 Washington Ave., Cloquet. Visit him at the church or by calling 218-879-4647.