The Incarnation Didn’t Happen in a Synagogue

By David Williamson.

We are very eager to exclaim “TGIF.” Some years ago, I came across a book by Bill Diehl, an executive in the steel industry: Thank God It’s Monday. The book itself is a good read, and it encouraged me to remember the story of a Pittsburgh business executive with a situation on Monday morning that needed God’s help, and it wasn’t Sunday. A faithful church member, he realized that he had relegated God to Sunday and church, and had not considered that God was God of all seven days of the week – God of Monday and the workplace as well as God of Sunday and the church.

The Old Testament Sabbath was a time to celebrate the work and the presence God had previously provided in the first six days. And it was a time to rest and renew for the week ahead. Sabbath was set apart and treated as holy. There is a direct connection to the other six days; Sabbath and work are woven together, equally important, each having meaning – not by itself, but in relationship to the whole.

In the New Testament, Sunday starts the week and anticipates the rest of the week, Monday through Saturday. Thus, rather than a reward for having worked faithfully all week, it anticipates the week of work ahead, and notices the resurrection implications and applications to the challenges that the week presents. Then on to Monday we get to engage in that work. Indeed, “Thank God it’s Monday!”

Sunday provides the in-spirit-ation for what follows. The week starts with a reminder and celebration of what God – through us – purposes for the week ahead. The week starts with God’s grace, as God’s first work, a gift of new life, of potential and possibilities, adding a context of meaning and purpose for all that follows doing the week ahead. We work as a “working out” of God’s grace, already affirmed in all our work, in all the ordinary circumstances of our daily life. Worship is declaring God’s “worth-ship,” and we do that through every aspect of our lives each day.

This celebration and employment of our gifts and resources, and so much more, even makes room for our failures, our sin and mistakes. God is also the God of forgiveness. He freely bestows his grace even before it is needed.

On a Tuesday afternoon, a local school teacher was anguishing with a school administrator over a policy issue that deeply affected students’ self-esteem and the teachers’ sense of professional calling. She needed God’s wisdom and peace, but this was a public school hallway and it was Tuesday afternoon, not Sunday in the church sanctuary.

On a Wednesday evening, a dad was in a very heated discussion with his high school son on the use or misuse of the family car. Mom and a sibling were caught in the middle. Where was God on Wednesday evening? God had seemed so present to him on Sunday.

On a Thursday evening, a mom announced to her family that she has just received a major award and promotion at work. It felt like a good time to celebrate, to thank and praise God for all the good things that happened, but it wasn’t time for the pastor to lead the “Prayers of the People.”

On a Saturday morning, a homeowners’ association met with the zoning commission and the mayor’s task force on low-income housing. The meeting became contentious. Is God interested in neighborhoods and property owners’ rights – and responsibilities? The need for housing for the poor and also for efficient city planning?

Is God as interested in Monday through Saturday as in Sunday? Is Jesus Lord of the weekday and workplaces as well as the church and Sundays? Is our work and community involvement as important God as our worship and prayer? Is there a connection between Sunday and Monday? Can I exclaim “Thank God it’s Monday?” Scripture says that “all things were made through him and for him” (Colossians 2:15).

Max Lucado, a Christian writer and pastor, wrote: “The Incarnation did not happen in a synagogue, in the presence of a priest on a Sabbath morning, in a transcendent moment of prayer and praise, but in a farmers barn, in the presence of farm animals, to a young working-class couple, and visited by shepherds and distant academics.”

God is as invested in our work on Monday morning as on Friday afternoon. So may we live Monday through Saturday as a continuing act of worship and praise, showing gratitude and faithfulness to – and participation with – the God of the whole week. Then we can move past TGIF to TGIM.

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