We were in big trouble. The ladies could scarcely believe their ears. And we youngsters had dropped ourselves right in it, just chatting; the truth had come out. What was our heinous crime? Well one sunny Sunday in September, we’d gone for a walk though the natural park not far from our home, and there were these big juicy blackberries, so we’d collected them and taken them home to make a pie. Apparently you COULDN’T DO THAT on a SUNDAY!
There have been big contentions over the years as to how we should use Sundays. Whilst the ladies of my youth were somewhat over-the-top, I find today’s attitude rather sad, as for most people it is just another work day. I don’t believe that was how God intended it to be. The first mention of a day of a special day, set aside from the others, goes right back to Genesis 2:2-3, when God took his only recorded rest, following six days of creating, and blessed the seventh day from then on. We come then to the Israelites in Exodus 16:21-30, when God instituted a regular day of rest for them every 7 days, by enabling them to collect enough manna for two days on the 6th, so they needed none and were given none on the 7th.
In Ancient Egypt, they’d had a ten-day week; but as slaves there were most probably no weekends off. Time to rest was something they were unfamiliar with; a strange notion that had to be impressed upon them by necessity in the first instance (no manna to collect), and then legislated in the Ten Commandments. It obviously did not come naturally to them. As to many of us. Somehow we feel guilty if we are not working round the clock, or else ‘bored’ if we’re not burning the candle at both ends. Yet how many of us complain about feeling tired! The institution of a day off was a gift, not a punishment! God knew the rigours they were having to endure, and that he needed a people who were healthy and strong for the journey as well as the ability to withstand attack from enemies, not to mention the battles to take the Promised Land that were ahead of them. A day off was an essential part of their coping strategy.
Personally, I would still see collecting blackberries whilst out on a ramble as leisure time. I think it boils down to what is recreative for you. Creation, then recreation was God’s pattern. What puts you back together again after the demands of a working week? That is what a day off is meant to do. However you work it out in practice, we all need time for recreation.