Thursday, January 12, 2012

Finding a time to rest, Exodus 20:10 with a story about sharpening the ax

SCRIPTURE: Exodus 20:10 (TM)
“… the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don't do any work …”

STORY as told by K. Hughes:
Some years ago a young man approached the foreman of a logging crew and asked for a job. "That depends," replied the foreman. "Let's see you fell this tree." The young man stepped forward and skillfully felled a great tree. Impressed, the foreman exclaimed, "Start Monday!" Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday rolled by, and Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the young man and said, "You can pick up your paycheck on the way out today."

Startled, he replied, "I thought you paid on Friday."

"Normally we do," answered the foreman, "but we're letting you go today because you've fallen behind. Our daily felling charts show that you've dropped from first place on Monday to last on Wednesday."

"But I'm a hard worker," the young man objected. "I arrive first, leave last, and even have worked through my coffee breaks!"

The foreman, sensing the boy's integrity, thought for a minute and then asked, "Have you been sharpening your ax?" The young man replied, "I've been working too hard to take the time."

Times have changed since our parent’s day. There was a time when the world seemed to stop on Sunday and in some parts of the Deep South in also included Wednesday afternoon. Sunday was a day for church and socializing with your family, friends and neighbors. It was a time of connecting and building community. Wednesday afternoon was a time to go fishin’.

All of that has been lost on modern society. We have become a 24/7 world. News comes in a constant stream of information. Computers and cell phones allows us to carry our work with us. A time of connecting and building community has been high jacked by Youtube and Facebook and Texting. Something has gotten lost in the process.

It is the time to sharpen our ax. And we wonder what is wrong with society. Maybe it is time to put all of that “stuff” down, to turn it off, and get unplugged.

After I retired I went to work for a direct mail firm. The first thing they taught me, as I visited several clients, was that the cell phone stays in the car. Don’t put it on vibrate, don’t wear on your belt. Turn it off and leave it in the car. The client you are visiting has got to feel that they are the most important person on your agenda.

I get a little upset when having lunch with fellow clergy whose cell phones go off or they are sitting there texting while we are having a conversation. We are a turned on-plugged in-constant connected society … and all the while our ax is becoming dull.

I cannot define someelses “ax” for them. Each of us has our own image of what it is for us. Taking a Sabbath rest has become a foreign idea of us. Community building is something that others do. We are connected, but are we really?

Having said all that I am informing my readers that this will be the last blog for two weeks. Margaret and I are taking a Sabbath rest by going on an 11-day cruise. We look forward to being with several friends and continuing our community building as we deepen the connection we have with each other and with our friends.

God help us to follow your directive and your example by finding time in our 24/7 world for our Sabbath rest be it on Sunday or Monday or Friday. And while we are resting help us to reconnect with each other. Amen.

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