Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Death of the Aussie Weekend

When I grew up (not so long ago) you were lucky to find a servo open on a Sunday to buy milk. Now everything is open on a Sunday! I even noticed that recently banks have been allowed to and started to open on Sundays. BankWest is now open from 10am-4.30pm at Burwood Westfield. Across the whole of Australia, Sunday is becoming like any other trading day (check out the data from the Australia Bureau of Statistics here).

What we have gained is economic activity and choice. What we have lost is community and God.

We have lost community because we no longer have a shared day off. No longer can you invite everyone around for a BBQ knowing that everyone will be able to come, no longer can you have a family lunch on Sunday because the kids are working at Boost Juice.

We have lost community because we no longer share our wealth by giving everyone a break. When God told his people to take a break part of the reason was so that EVERYONE could take a break together:

"You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. " Exodus 20:9-10 (NLT)

Choice is taken away from people working in businesses that open on Sundays because they will be compelled at some level to be on that Sunday roster. Your choice to buy Boost Juice (or whatever) is the loss of their weekend. The Aussie weekend is dead.

In England there was a fight put up to try and stop Sunday trading. It failed. Read about their efforts in Wikipedia, or at the Keep Sunday Special website. At least they tried. Here in Australia we foolishly traded our weekend for a bowl of lentil soup.

The bigger issue is that we have forgotten about God. The economy is our great idol as it delivers us the goods we want, protects us from poverty, determines what is right and wrong and the place where so many sacrifice their very lives (through their devotion to careerism). We have lost sight of God and his goodness and making room in our lives for him. Taking a shared day off as a community to give God space is something of crucial importance.

As Christians we know there is freedom to consider days differently (Romans 14:5-6), and we also know that the Sabbath looks forward to the great rest we have with God (Hebrew 4:6-11). However, the idea of a community day off is a good one. After all the law was not made to hinder us as persons but to help us. As Jesus says:

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28.

The Aussie Weekend is now dead and we were too busy to notice it passing away.

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