DROPPING THE SHOPPING

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DROPPING THE SHOPPING

Victor Pilmoor reflects on rain, rest and community in his monthly column.

Salt and LightFollowing weeks of rain, our country has become a water-logged pitch, made worse by the environmental impact of our industrial scale consumption, and a failure to afford draining the land on which we build. By contrast, a footballer demands £300,000 a week to perform on this sodden turf. This is an oblivious contradiction for one of the most debt ridden of nations on earth. When our loans are redeemed through rising interest rates, the communal unrest seen in other bankrupt nations this week becomes a possibility for us. Clearly our society needs to prioritise better values and better economic choices.

Brendo PrattIn our 'Salt and Light' reflection at the BUC Ministers council this past week, Brendan Pratt addressed the nature of our 'what is in it for me' society including the possibility that even religious belief systems are consumerist. How can we bring flavour to our community?

Sabbath is embraced for a variety of reasons: as a memorial of creation, to live in harmony with God's rest, to symbolise our liberation from slavery, to commemorate the rest of Christ before his resurrection, among others. Walter Brueggeman in his recent book - Sabbath as Resistance comments as follows:

"..the Sabbath .. is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods. Such an act of resistance requires enormous intentionality and communal reinforcement amid the barrage of seductive pressures from the insatiable insistences of the market, with its intrusion into every part of our life from the family to the national budget."

The Exodus narrative begins with crop failure in Canaan, followed by the managed control of surplus in Eygpt, which lead to an obsession with production and wealth paid for by the cruel enslavement of an entire population. In response God gives a simple set of values to embellish freedom in the Sabbath. The first three missives differentiate the God of Israel from the gods of Pharoah, the final six describe the parameters for a anxiety free, harmonious community.

Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. Timothy 6:6-10

In an earlier treatise 'Truth speaks to power', Brueggeman highlights the counter cultural nature of the Christians witness. He suggests that far from being subservient to the public agenda, the Christian in his/her rest from production and consumption each Sabbath confronts national and cultural priorities. The prophetic voice challenges the bastions of national power. Peaceful existence at the price of compliance with consumption, is not a faithful witness.

Sabbath is about 'dropping the shopping'. It is a cathedral in time in which we celebrate contentment.

Thank you once again for enhancing the flavour of our society, bringing light to those whose prospects are dark, in the name of the One who redeems for now and for eternity.

With sincere respect.

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Victor

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