I posted recently about sabbath rest, and one of the issues I struggle with is the place of meeting for corporate worship within that – as an introvert, going to a place where there are lots of other people and doing stuff that involves interacting with other people is just not something that I’d file under the heading of “rest”. Being an introvert means that interacting with lots of people is something that takes energy from me, so I have to make sure that I pace myself well and that I have enough rest before/after. For me rest requires solitude – that’s just the way I’m made.
But I go to church, and not out of some sense of obligation – I don’t believe God will chuck a bolt of lightning at me if I don’t, I know he won’t stop loving me if I miss church, and I do feel free to miss church once in a while if I really need to. But I know that if I miss it too much then, well, I miss it. I miss something that is important to me. I miss something that does me good – even if it’s not restful to me.
And it strikes me that there’s plenty of stuff like that in life. Today I went out to a local garden centre and then to a shop that sells craft materials, and I came home tired – but it was worth it, because I really needed that outing, I needed a change of scene, I needed to be out of the house and doing something just for fun and browsing through interesting things – it’s something I need once in a while, it does me good, but it also takes energy.
Not to mention stuff like physical exercise – not that I do much of that myself… but I know the theory, I know that it’s good for us even though it is tiring.
Not that church usually tires me out in a big way, it’s not that I come home and need to lie down, just that it’s not actually restful to me and so for me it doesn’t fit in with the concept of a day of rest. But I usually treat Saturday as my day of rest anyway, so it’s not a problem. And also I’m kind of chewing a bit more on that sermon I posted about and I’m thinking [I told you this was going to be a “thinking aloud” post]: maybe the idea of the Sabbath as a “day of rest” is not quite what God originally intended – maybe he just wanted us to take a break from our daily toil, and do stuff that’s good for us, which includes corporate worship. That’s the traditional application both in my culture and in church culture – Jewish tradition includes synagogue attendance in the observance of Shabbat, and church tradition (which regards Sunday as the Sabbath, not that I’m convinced about that at all but that’s another story) regards meeting in church as part of it, with some brands of church even treating is as a duty.
So maybe that voice in my head that says “but to me that’s not restful” is just voicing an irrelevance, because it’s not about total rest from anything you personally find tiring, it’s about resting from your daily toil. People can go out for a nice walk as part of their Sabbath, and work up a good healthy sweat. I’m beginning to think that maybe my focus on rest has been misplaced, that it’s not about that as it is about a break from your day-to-day norm, a day when whatever it is that most days you have to do, you don’t.
I think maybe I’m [slowly, gradually] getting it.