I am surely not the only person who has a tough time remembering birthdays, my case is a bit extreme. I admit that once I even forgot Yn. Anna’s birthday. It was just once though-because as the saying goes-the best way to remember your wife’s birthday is to forget it once. That is unless, of course, you live in in the Pacific Island of Samoa, where the police will help you remember. On this amazing island, I read that it is actually illegal to forget your wife’s birthday. All this to say, that remembering special days of your loved ones is very important.
Well, Sunday is really just like that. It’s the birthday of the church. Each Sunday is the anniversary of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It’s not just a holiday–it’s a holy day. It’s the Lord’s Day, կիրակի. It’s a day God has set aside for us just to be with him – to ask, “Lord, are you really first in my life? Lord, is there anything between you and me? When I’m lonely, busy, bored, stressed, feeling empty, are you the one I seek? Do I love you less today then I did a week ago – or a year ago?” This includes Badarak and worship on Sunday, first and foremost, but goes beyond that to our restfulness, prayerfulness, thankfulness the whole day. All care that pile up with so much weight on us throughout the week are to be shifted onto God; “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden,” says Our Lord, “and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28) All the illusions we hold of life revolving around us and our work should melt before the reality that all life revolves around God. What we are aiming for, in short, is captured in the words of Isaiah in this season’s lectionary readings: “If you call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; then you shall take delight in the Lord.” (Is 58:13)
Notice that Isaiah says nothing about Sabbath or Church as a duty, it’ about a relationship, the quality of our relationship to God. Think of how the Sabbath started. From the very first, Sabbath was an essential design element of God’s creation, work six days, but on the seventh day; Sabbath. God gave Ten Commandments to his people, and with all the other crucial things he might have stressed, he made “Keeping the Sabbath Day” the fourth commandment. If you or I had made up the list, the Sabbath may have been the fourteenth or forty-fourth priority, but not the fourth. Yet God made it number four in the top ten things on his heart, more important, even, than “You shall not steal, murder, or commit adultery!” How does keeping the Sabbath come in ahead of ‘thou shall not murder’? Is there anything more important than preserving life itself? No, and that is precisely the point.
Our life comes from God and is renewed in Christ. Not keeping the Sabbath is like a kind of spiritual homicide, it is choking out the breath of God, the Holy Spirit from inspiring our lives. Yes, it matters to God that we worship on Sundays because God wants time with us and a committed relationship. But it matters more to us. God doesn’t need us at church; God needs nothing. It is we who need to be there. Keeping the Sabbath, in the end, is not a duty to give to God so much as an essential element to live this life we are given in happiness and health. It reaffirms Augustine’s great insight into the relationship between God and man, “God you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” May we all learn to rest in God; to delight in Him at the end of each week and at the end of each day. For truly, remembering the special days of our loved ones, and our God who is love is of the utmost importance.