Fridays are important to all the children of Abraham. For Jews, tonight marks the beginning of the sabbath and its rest, ushered in with joy and thanksgiving; for Muslims it is a day of prayer, and after the call to prayer has sounded, also a day of resting from work. For Christians it is a memorial of the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ, a reminder that we cannot save ourselves. For us too it is a day of joy and gladness, but it is a sober, plain joy, for it is lived in the shadow of the Cross. For all the children of Abraham this is a day of prayer. What might the world be if we all, individually and collectively, lived what we believe?
Trinity Sunday is our patronal feast, so there will be special preparations in the monastery today: mainly, I suspect, additional polishing in the oratory and some baking in the kitchen! Life, as we often remind ourselves, is not all liturgy and loveliness, but we need our highs as well as our lows and Sunday is the great feast of every week. It is our sabbath, and everything about it should have a sabbath quality of joy and blessedness. That doesn’t happen without preparation. So, if you would enjoy your Sunday and make of it a true sabbath, you need to do a little preparation today, especially since rest is an essential part of sabbath blessedness.
Sundays are very busy days for monks, nuns and clergy. That doesn’t mean that they lose everything we mean by ‘sabbath’: sacred leisure, silence, joy in the Lord. We have the custom of saving the best of what we have for Sundays, so even the food we eat marks out this day as special; and because Benedictines often work in solitude at their appointed tasks, we try to make this day one on which we share something as a community — a walk, perhaps, or that most British of institutions, tea at four o’clock.
I wonder whether many Christians have lost the sense of the importance of sabbath. We are so busy with all the multitudinous activities that fill the week-end that Sunday can end up being just another day with church on top. If so, it would be a good idea to think again about how we keep the Lord’s day holy. ‘The sabbath was made for man’: we are meant to have time to enjoy it.