Clergy Reflection – July 7, 2017

Clergy Reflection



Working 9 to 5

In my childhood memory, most of the adults I knew who worked outside the home were called “white collar” workers and held what were called “9 to 5” jobs, meaning they arrived at an office by 9:00 AM every work day and left it at 5:00 PM every work day. Once out of the office, the day was over and work tasks did not begin again until the next workday at 9:00 AM.

If asked as a child, I would have described my Dad’s work in those terms.

Except on the many days when he was out of town to check in on one of 11 company offices he was responsible for. Or trying to get back to Chicago from an Executive Committee meeting in New York on a Friday night with thunderstorms brewing across the northern part of the country. Or even just making long distance calls for business reasons after dinner at home (which meant connecting with a long distance operator and then waiting for a call back when the connection had been completed).

The truth is, very few “9 to 5” jobs were ever really limited to those hours. With the explosion of modern communications technology, even the pretense that “9 to 5” describes the workday is going, going, gone. The most common reality today is that others expect us to be “on call” all the time, to the point that I suspect most of us have internalized being “on call” as an expectation on ourselves.

Both Jewish and Christian traditions include a concept which is meant to protect us from our own busy-ness – Sabbath, literally a “day or time of ceasing.” Judaism has broadly retained the observance of a sabbath day in the week, enshrined in the Ten Commandments. In recent generations, Christianity has not done so well when it comes to observing structured times of Sabbath.

We need to discern the form of sabbath which is renewing to our spirit and proactively establish time for renewal. We will never get it entirely right, of course, and genuine life emergencies arise on their own calendar…and yet, we need to be sustaining our spirit intentionally to meet the many demands on our lives. Here’s an opportunity to engage in a Sabbath-like time together:

This fall, St. John’s Church will be initiating a weekly “Wednesday Unplugged” opportunity for fellowship, food and formation – a gathering of our church community (all ages invited!) to simply be with one another “unplugged” for an hour and a half (6:30 PM – 8:00 PM). What a great way to introduce a sabbath break into your week. Much more information to come, but if this sounds like a form of Sabbath which might work for you, save your Wednesday evenings and come whenever you can!

– Stephen