Labor Day – Excerpt from Living the Sabbath

In honor of Labor Day here in the US, today’s post is an excerpt from Norman Wirzba’s 2006 Brazos book Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight (a part of the Christian Practice of Everyday Life series).

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Living the Sabbath[A]uthentic work is one of the primary means we have to share in God’s own continuing work of building and maintaining creation. Whatever work we perform, then, is permised on the understanding that our exertion is finally derivative, utterly dependent on God’s grace as its sustaining and inspirational heart. The many indicators of work’s current malfunction–workaholism, worker anxiety and stress, social fragmentation and strife, massive environmental destruction–suggest that at a very deep level we have lost faith in God’s goodness. We have lost our appreciation for the loveliness of others and have turned our faithlessness into widespread abuse and exploitation. Rather than submitting to the grace of God, we have embarked upon the total management of the world. We are unable to let creation be itself, or to receive the world as a gift. We have come to think that whatever value is in this world will be the direct result of our doing, thus forgetting that God’s doing goes before all of our own.

We are in desperate need of a new conception of work and widespread discussion of what it is and what it is finally for. Sabbath people, those who understand that the goal of life is for all of us to share in the delight of God, are ideally situated to help that discussion along. As we proceed, [Wendell] Berry’s words can help us appreciate our work as a contribution in praise of God’s own work:

And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.

[Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems, 1979-1997 (Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 1998), p. 18]

©2006 by Norman Wirzba. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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For more information on Living the Sabbath, click here.