I'm told there was a day when stores were closed on Sundays. And that you couldn't make a midnight run for milk because there were no Walgreens or Wal Marts. Or that after the evening news, all TV stations went to static. How my forefathers survived, I'll never know.
But was such primitive existence a good thing? In modern America, we have lost sacred time - days or hours that are special, set aside, and holy. Stores and health clubs are open 24 hours a day. Club sports are scheduled every day of the week. You can order online every minute of every day. In the name of convenience and personal freedom, we have removed all barriers to our time.
How we spend our time says something about who we are. It is a leading indicator of what we value. And if we have no sacred time in our schedules, what does that tell us about what we find sacred?
In reviewing the Ten Commandments, I've found the third to be convicting. The third commandment is about sacred time.
"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." (Ex. 20:8)
“To keep it holy.” There is such a thing as sacred time. Ex. 20:10 explains a bit more what sacred time is: “the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.” The key to this description is where Sabbath time is directed - "to the LORD your God."
God makes time holy and sacred. But we “keep it holy” when time is intentionally set aside and directed to God. Keeping sacred time is about the orientation and direction of our time. Keeping sacred time means lifting your focus from creation to Creator.
It’s not that God is absent from other days or times. But for six days of the week, you’re working incredibly hard. There is work, paying bills, driving to practice, studying, getting gas, buying groceries, mowing the lawn, going to the doctor, making dinner, connecting with friends, planning an event . . . . And God is in all of it.
But after six crazy, hectic, frantic days, one day is to be completely devoted to God. You break from the normal, and you make one day sacred. You devote yourself fully to holy things. To sacred worship. To a sacred meal. To sacred words. To a sacred perspective. To a sacred community, that together has set aside this time as directed "to the LORD your God."
My wife and I noticed that the longer we were married, the busier and more distracted we got. We found ourselves having less authentic time together. We might be around each other all week, but we were frazzled as we did laundry, cook, raise kids, run errands, etc. We found ourselves drifting apart because we were so focused on everything else. We were in proximity to one another, but never really close.
So we started going on dates . . . with each other. Special, dedicated, focused time with one another. No distractions. No work. Just us.
Sacred time is about a relationship with God. He has built within our DNA the very need for sacred time and a sacred relationship with him. Special, dedicated, focused time with him. No distraction. No work. Just God and his people.
We must determine how to maintain sacred time (and sacred space) in a society that has very little use for such unproductive and boring practices. The Millennial generation is certainly fleeing the church is larger numbers than previous generations. But I believe there is an intuitive longing for the sacred more than ever. (An interesting article in the Washington Post.)