As we celebrated Labor Day yesterday, I thought about our society’s relationship with work and rest. We are a culture that values productive and fruitful work, and some even subscribe to the notion of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” At the very least, many of us, in our busy and hectic lives, find ourselves in need of a time to rest from our work.
In the beginning of the book of Genesis, there’s an account of how God created the heavens and the earth. As each “day” of creation progressed, a refrain is repeated for each one: “and there was evening and there was morning.” For the Hebrews, the day begins not in the morning, but in the evening, when activity ceased and people spent time with family, eating meals and sharing stories before going to sleep. In God’s creation, a rhythm of rest comes before fruitful work. In fact, after God created the first human beings and told them to be “fruitful and multiply,” humanity’s first “full day” was a day of rest in the presence of God.
Is it possible that God designed human beings to work from our rest, and not vice-versa? Jesus had the same perspective when, in John 15, he used the image of the vine and the branches to illustrate the need to abide in him before bearing fruit. Unfruitful branches are pruned so that more nutrients can be channeled to other branches. Even fruitful branches are pruned periodically so that they can be even more fruitful.
As you reflect on your life and the life of UBC, ask yourself these questions: “Are we working from rest, abiding first in Christ before becoming fruitful? How might we intentionally enter into a season of rest? What needs to be pruned and cut back so that we can be even more fruitful?”
These are questions to ponder coming out of this Labor Day weekend.