Growing up in a Seventh-day Adventist home, Sabbath was by far the best day of the week: Dad was home from work, Mom prepared a delicious meal, and my sister and I were done with our studies for the week. Sabbath also meant going to Sabbath school and church, an opportunity to see our friends and possibly to have guests for lunch. Sabbath afternoons often included hikes in the woods, walks on the beach, or riding our bicycles on bike trails. It was a wonderful day for family, worship, and enjoying God’s creation.
As I look back on my nearly 20-year teaching career at Pacific Union College, one class stands out as my favorite--Argumentation and Debate. I doubt the students benefited anywhere as much as I did from the experience. Certainly good presentation skills and excellent research were helpful, but the real benefit was, I believe, found elsewhere.
Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong is noted for warning that in fundamentalist organizations, the mere asking of a question may be considered tantamount to heresy. He would know, his positions have resulted in death threats. While not wishing to retain that moniker when my name is considered, I still feel that this Sabbath’s lesson forces me to ask the question, “So why do we keep the Sabbath?”I don’t ask it rhetorically, as I hope to address it in a way that will at least satisfy me.
The first hint that the creation of our world takes place within a dangerous universe comes in Chapter One, verses 3-5. On the first day, God creates ‘light’ and calls it ‘good’; God then ‘separates’ the ‘light from the darkness’ and names the light ‘day’ and the ‘darkness he calls ‘night’. Curiously, God offers a positive evaluation of ‘light’ without providing any parallel evaluation of the quality of ‘darkness’. Simply put, although the narrative, at this stage, resists adopting the normative binary opposition of light/dar