Reflections: Finding our Voice and our Place

by Rodney L. Petersen, Executive Director

There is a resurgence of interest in Sabbath and Sunday practices in American culture today. And it comes from such disciplines as Health and Psychology, Human Resources, Environmental Studies – as well as from the more expected fields of Spirituality, Theology, and Religion. As the LDA works on the question of how, “Sunday and Sabbath Speak to 21st Century Spirituality and Social Practice,” we need to find our voice and our place.

Some of the things we can do include supporting others as they discover for the first time, or re-discover, the meaning of Sabbath and the Lord’s Day in their lives. This may mean sorting out what we ourselves believe about the Sabbath of Creation, the Mosaic Sabbath, the New Testament Sabbath, or the celebration of the Lord’s Day. Second, we can lobby for and practice in our lives and even corporate life the maintenance of a Lord’s Day asking, what would Jesus do on this day? Something like this must have been at work in the mind of the late S. Truett Cathy who did so much to model and make possible the practice of Sunday as a Sabbath in his own life and in the lives of others. Third, we can explore how the Sabbath Commandment and its New Testament exhortation find places of integration with all of life, in other words  how the Sabbath Command bridges duty to God (“spirituality”), as depicted in the first three Commandments and duty to neighbor (“social practice”), as noted in Commandments Five through Ten. As such, we can explore and find meaningful their integration. After all, is this not where the message of Isaiah 58:6-14 and Luke 4:18-21 take us?

As the LDA finds its voice in a society that is hungry for its message it can best do this in alliance with others. For example, we have partnered with the Academy of Preachers as young men and women have had the opportunity to preach in preaching festivals associated with our conferences. We can join together with the organization Blessed Earth, concerned about the social, personal and mental health benefits of the Fourth Commandment and its implications for the stewardship of the earth. We might also think of working together with Day1, the radio and audio company formerly known as “The Protestant Hour.” They could highlight our winning sermon contest individual and assist with the distribution of LDA products. On a more substantive side, we might partner with REFO500, the international organization planning for coherent and connective events associated with the significance of the 500th Anniversary of the Luther Reformation. We have much to learn through an exploration of the roots of Sabbath/Sunday thinking in western culture and the points of relationship between Human Rights and the Decalogue. Such could lead to work with the United Nations Advisory Committee on Environmental Sabbath/World Day of Rest. And, there are almost endless possibilities of engagement with the Labor Sabbath movement and Marketplace Ministries.  

In other words, if we look around we might find many who would rally to an alliance of the Lord’s Day and its integration of spirituality with social justice, as we find our voice and our place in challenging times.