Day 04 Devotional & Discussion – February 21, 2015

Deuteronomy 5:12-15

The Sabbath commandment regulates the workweek, ensuring that all workers (even animals) have regular time off. Why do you think time off is so important to God? What power dynamic is being addressed by the Sabbath policy? Who is being protected? From whom? Though we have regulated workweeks (40 hours, prescribed breaks, overtime pay, etc), how are workers’ rights to time off being eroded today? What policies have contributed to that erosion? What policies would help to protect workers and the need for time off?

There is no devotional for Sunday, February 22, 2015

4 comments

  1. I’ve read articles stating that on the world stage American workers in general are at or near the bottom of the list for working the longest hours, receiving and taking the least amount of vacation. Much of it, I think, is self-imposed because of our consumer culture. My family just bought a car, and so we have a loan payment. I wonder if I could have done without the car. I wonder if I could do without my cell phone. Just how much could I do without so I wouldn’t have to work so much. I work a full-time job and a part-time job so our family can make ends meet, and most times it seems we’re just scraping by. But that is, to some degree, of our own choosing. I know that my perspective is that of a person who has had so much opportunity to get a good education. That education opened the door to both of my jobs. Without it, I don’t know what life would be like. I suspect I’d have to work multiple low-paying jobs, and that brings the discussion back to your questions. If workers aren’t being paid much, they’ll almost certainly have to work extra hours, shifts, jobs, just to make it. It seems like an over-simplified answer, but I feel it all goes back to dollars. A company wants to pad their bottom line. So pay low wages, reduce benefits (like vacation and insurance), ask the workers to work more. Why else would companies require this?

  2. On a personal note, I am terrible with keeping a sabbath for myself. I feel that as I have grown older, I have gotten worse. Even when I go to use the toilet (sorry for this…) I have to bring my phone and multi-task. Redeem the time, right? Probably, wrong. I remember a time when my parents had replaced a sofa, and they put the old one in their garage. I was in my middle school or early high school years. From time to time, I would just go out to the garage, sit on the sofa, alone, and think. Just think. It was awesome.

    1. I don’t think our need to work more than any other country is usually self-imposed. In addition to the need to work extra hours because we don’t pay living wages, I know many people who are REQUIRED to check their work email while on vacation and have their cell phones on at all times. Our time away from work is not our own thanks to technology. I’ve also known people who have been denied their accrued vacation time. Deadlines are imposed, special projects have to be completed outside of work hours, etc. Bosses can easily tell salaried employees, “You’re on salary, and extra hours are expected to complete your work.” I am always fascinated by the Sabbath law, but I was especially struck this time by who is being addressed–the employer. YOU, employer/head of household/master, shall observe the Sabbath Day and you shall not force any of your employees/family members/servants/animals to work the seventh day. God is placing a boundary around those who have power over the lives and time of others. Bosses who expect employees to be available for work at any and all times are oppressors.

  3. My husband works for a company that is closed on Sunday, and this is celebrated by its patrons. He also has a regular day off during the week. But I can tell you that not every week are these days truly considered “time off.” He basically had to have a smart phone when he got a raise so that he could be available on Facebook and by text message all the time. And because they have a designated day off, once a quarter, their leadership trainings take place on Sundays. We are grateful that most of the time he does not have to work on Sundays so we can be together as a family, but he is never really “off.” And when I worked as journalist, before the age of everyone having cell phones and smart phones, I was constantly asked to be available in case news broke. I get that that’s the nature of the job, but it was stressful. I never really felt free. There are some interesting vacation policies in other countries that I think would benefit our country but would probably never “succeed” in our work-ourselves-to-death society.

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