Citing our rat-race lifestyle and dependence on technological gadgets, many Christian commentators have written about our need for a Sabbath. Many talk of a “Sabbath” as abstinence from anything for any period time while others consider the need to take a day off, though it might not be Sunday. I think there are a number of reasons to make the first day of the week, when we commemorate the Resurrection, a time of not only worship and rest but also fellowship with those who are sick.
Luke chapter 9, for instance, shows how Jesus’s ministry coupled preaching with healing. It is fitting that as we set aside the Lord’s Day to hear the preaching of the Word, alongside the other aspects of worship such as the celebration of the sacraments, we should dedicate the rest of the day to fellowship with others, particular those who are in need. A good friend of mine related the story of how his friend’s church had a list of people to bring food ready within a day when she had cancer. Too often we think of “home visits” and hospital visitation as the job of professional clergy. However, using the Sabbath to extend the body of Christ into the homes and rooms of those who are ill is the role of every Christian. I’m sure none of the pastors of our churches would mind if we asked for the names of those in the hospital. Some churches print such information in the weekly bulletin.
Yes, Sunday afternoons are a good time for a nap, but I think our Lord’s Day could be richer if we spent time in fellowship with others, especially those who are ill. As Thanksgiving approaches, I remember fondly my front-yard football games with my cousins at my grandparents’ house after a turkey meal. That’s the spirit of the Sabbath: a time of rejuvenation for not only the mind and body but also the soul. I also think those who are sick and injured are happy to have someone take them outside, too, even it’s not to throw around the pigskin. I’m always disappointed when hospitals do not take the opportunity to provide at least an outdoor courtyard for patients to sit with their friends and family. For instance, I visited a hospital that was just a quarter mile down the street from a nice, municipal park several miles in length (and an adjacent lot available no less). When it’s a hot summer day in Texas, it’s too far to walk with someone who is ill. Just a little more thoughtfulness and a little better planning and the hospital really could have put something nice together for its patients.
Now if you’ll excuse me … I have two loved ones to see in the hospital.