Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who 1stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day (Deut 5:12-15)
Great reflections in this week's Kairos Journal, Holiday or Holy Day?:
Do people work that they might play or play that they might work? Do they toil to accumulate the wherewithal for vacation, or do they vacation to recharge their batteries for the work set before them? Which is the priority? A cursory look at the Fourth Commandment suggests that work is central; one labors for six days and rests on the seventh. This is not a grim description of the human condition but a biblical norm, an ideal if you will.We are increasingly persuaded that much spiritual strength is sapped from the Church, not only because devotion to work often rises to the idolatrous, but because the type of rest she often pursues is simply carnal.
In his classic work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber argued that Calvinists, Lutherans, and the cultures they shaped were keen on living consecrated lives, lives exhibiting the marks of regeneration. These Protestants had little use for the sacred/secular distinction—even shop men and homemakers had holy vocations. They understood the principle of deferred pleasure, so savings and the accumulation of capital were normal. They believed that shirking their work was an affront to the Lord who gave them these tasks. They might even pass up some of their vacation days. (Of course, many Americans work themselves to death for materialistic reasons, and their vacations are increasingly hedonistic.)
...for the God-called servant, there is nothing particularly merry in excessive rest. After all, there is God-given work to do.