Summer, Sabbath and Screens – Summer Faith Formation Week 2

Last Sunday our youth group family activity was attending the viewing of Screenagers at Gloria Dei. The documentary follows one family’s attempt to be intentional about the ways they use technology. Gloria Dei did an outstanding job welcoming the community and facilitating this important discussion.

There is one particular part of the discussion that followed the movie that I haven’t been able to let go of. Acknowledging that most adults and students rely on technology to do their work, one young person offered the suggestion to set periodic breaks and rewards for productivity. Suggested rewards included walks and bike rides. I agree that this is a helpful tip for being productive. But, I have been left wondering, what is our relationship with work? What does it have to do with our faith?

I’ve realized that my thoughts about work and technology boil down to this question: are we living to work or working to live? Work and study are essential parts of life. Hopefully, we are able to find work that we enjoy, that contributes to the common good, and that provides for our needs. But even the most enjoyable class or job (like mine!) will take over our life if we let it. We live in a world where we are constantly connected to our work through technology. Work has a way of creeping into our personal and family time. It isn’t hard to end up living to work.

Christian discipleship calls us to work to live, a way of life that often rubs against societal norms. Hard work is glorified and rewarded. Our economy depends on productivity. Our schools are designed to create productive workers. But, we are made to be far more than the grades on our report cards or the salaries we make. Genesis, the very first book of the Bible, tells us that humans are created in the image of God. We worship God who is creative, loving, and always reaching out to be in relationship with us. If we are made in God’s image, then doesn’t that mean that we are created to be creative, loving, and to live in community with God and one another? This is the belief that shifts our understanding of work and reward.

God’s grace means that you and I don’t need to work hard to earn a walk, a bike ride, or time with our family and friends. We don’t need to earn time to create music or art. We don’t need to earn our time to pray and worship. These are the exact things God created us to do. So, while it is true we must work to provide for our needs, we do not have to let work or school overtake our lives. Pastor Melissa pointed out that this is why a day of Sabbath is one of God’s commandments, not a mere suggestion. Human nature often leaves us overworked and overscheduled. God commands us to rest. To take time to be who we were created to be. Are we making time each day and each week to do just that?

A few days later, my own daughter expressed that she needed downtime. Her summer schedule is more relaxed but does includes chores at home, a part time job, several camps, and studying for the ACT. I replied, “yes, take a Sabbath. Take time to live this beautiful life you have been given.” Later that week she and I spent a few hours at a quiet beach reading, painting, and talking. I was thankful for the rest which left me more calm and soul-filled than I have felt in a long time.

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