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Viewpoint: Keeping balance between work and play

By Rev. Dr. Dawn Jeffers Ramstad, Hudson United Methodist Church

Every time I drive down Vine Street I am both impressed by the scope of the high school construction and amazed that school for 2017-2018 started in mid-August. For many of the families in our church this summer of construction and realigned school year made summer vacations challenging and valued.

We are hard workers here in Hudson. It is a value we share with our children, particularly our youth. Through our many youth programs we teach them to set and achieve goals through hard work and good effort. However, it has me wondering about what else are we teaching them through our emphasis on hard work and good effort?

The Bible values hard work as evidenced by stories of ark building, nation building, and church building that fill so many of its pages. But in the Bible, it is hard work with some balance to it. This balance comes in the fourth of the Ten Commandments, "Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. . . ."

The Exodus 20:7-11 version, says we rest one day of the week because God rested. The Deuteronomy 5:12-15 version says we rest one day of the week because we are no longer slaves as the Israelites once were in Egypt.

When we teach our youth the importance of hard work and good effort do we do so also remembering to teach them the importance of resting and keeping the sabbath holy, and also wholly? Keeping sabbath is a hard thing to do in our 24/7 culture. For so many of us it is hard it is to stop working, to stop and simply enjoy the blessings of the day.

I had a hard time stopping work this past month as one of our youth mission trip chaperones. We road tripped through Chicago to Altoona, Penn., where did summer maintenance work on a community center in a housing development. Our biggest project was removing weeds from beddings that were 3 feet deep around all four sides of a building the size of my Hudson rambler, then planting and mulching a perennial garden. With 110 hours hard work and good effort, we got it done.

On our way home, we stopped for a play day at Navy Pier in Chicago. Do you have any idea how many weeds there are in the beddings at Navy Pier? It was so hard to stop seeing the weeding work that needed doing as I waited in line to buy my Ferris wheel ticket. But the effort we had made to serve Altoona made our Ferris wheel ride all the sweeter, and our morning on Navy Pier a time of real sabbath keeping.

Sabbath keeping is not doing nothing. Sabbath is enjoying a sanctuary in time where one sets aside ordinary work to enjoy the blessings of a life realized through hard work and good effort. So enjoy your vacations; we will all do better together if we face the school year with a great vacation.