So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all His work which He had done in creation.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
Today we begin our last full week of our unit “Guide Us to Thy Perfect Light.” The theme is “Rejoice Like Creation.” And we will be reflecting on the word “Rejoice” and “Creation” in our daily reflections.
The world was created in seven “days.” We do not believe these are literal days, but rather metaphorical ones. The creation story is told in such a way that a young child can understand it. The most important piece of the story is that God is the creator, and that at each step of creation, He was creating with intention. In other words, human beings did not evolve from monkeys, but were intentionally created by God, after His image and likeness. It’s interesting to note that even those who espouse other theories of creation have light being the first thing created and events happening in the same order as the Biblical account.
The creation of mankind is special. In Genesis 1:26 we read, Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” First, man is created in the image and likeness of God, meaning we have a soul, something that will live forever. Unlike God, we are created, we are not uncreated. But like God, we have the potential to live eternally. It’s just a question of where we will live eternally—will it be heaven with God, or hell, estranged from God. The animals and the plants, the water and the planets, everything else created by God does not have a soul and will not live eternally. The second thing here is that mankind is the master of creation. We are the stewards of the earth and are supposed to be responsible in our stewardship of the creation, how we treat animals, plants, natural resources, etc. In Genesis 1:31, we read that “God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” At every stage of creation, God looked at what He had made and it was “good.” Only after creating the human beings was the creation “very good.” We are the crown-jewel, so to speak, in the creation. The creation of the human beings was on the “sixth day,” meaning that if this was a literal seven-day week, it would have occurred on a Friday.
On the “seventh day” (which would metaphorically be Saturday), God rested. The creation was finished on Friday, so the day of rest was Saturday. God blessed and hallowed this day, ordering it as a day of rest. The fourth commandment, in Exodus 20:8-11, commands that the Sabbath be kept holy, and that on the Sabbath, no work is to be done. Of course, Jesus challenged that notion when He healed people on the Sabbath.
The crucifixion took place on a Friday, and that is no coincidence. Jesus said “It is finished” (John 19:30) on the same day that the creation was finished, and Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath. The Resurrection took place after the Sabbath had passed. In the Old Testament, the day hallowed to the Lord was the seventh day of the week. Now, it is the first day of the week. Sunday, in Greek, is “Kyriaki,” which literally means “The Day of the Lord.” So the first day of the week is supposed to be set aside for worship AND rest. Ideally Sunday morning is reserved for the Lord, to worship, and Sunday afternoon is set aside for family and for self, to rest. And just like with everything else, we are squeezing the Day of the Lord out of our schedule—many people are not worshipping (probably most people now) and hardly anyone, including me, is resting properly. This puts life out of alignment—we need to connect with God, and we need rest. For me personally, Sunday is always a “work day” as there is work associated with leading worship, preparing for a sacrament, leading a youth group meeting (ours are on Sundays). Children are catching up on homework, parents are cooking. We need to be more deliberate in resting, if not all day Sunday, then for sure on Sunday mornings, to worship and to “rest” in God’s house. But then also to take opportunities to rest as we can. It is hard to write this reflection because I definitely can do a better job of making opportunities to rest. And if we are honest, we all can. As we make our resolutions for the new year, make sure that at least leaving Sunday morning open to worship God is a priority, because it is a commandment, not a suggestion.
Bethlehem has opened Eden. Come, let us see. We have found the hidden delight. Come, let us receive the things of Paradise inside the Cave. There, we shall see an unwatered root that blossomed forgiveness. There, we shall find an undug well, from which David of old desired to drink. There, the Virgin quenched the thirst of both Adam and David, when she gave birth to her baby. So let us go there now, where He was born a newborn Child, the preeternal God. (Oikos, Orthros of the Nativity, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Personal Reflection Point: Do you take a day of rest each week as the Lord showed us to?