Last week, the Church of the Redeemer was closed for a snow day. Notwithstanding the limited accumulation (some clever souls dubbed the storm “The Fizzard of 2015”), there was something delightfully nostalgic about being “snowed in.” The instant I discovered that our offices were closed, I was transported back to my childhood, to those wonderful moments when I looked out the window at a world blanketed in white and knew that the day was full of unanticipated possibility.
Of course, snow days can be slightly more complicated for adults. They oblige us to reschedule meetings, ensure that our children are occupied, and deal with the anxiety of missing a day of work. In spite of these these complications, we ought to view snow days with at least some of our childhood delight. Snow days are unique opportunities to experience a true respite from our impossibly busy schedules. We tend to fill other days off with chores and other obligations. Since snow days are unanticipated, however, they are unencumbered by plans and expectations; they are opportunities to do things that we would otherwise not have time to do. Snow days are a gift, and the appropriate response to a gift is gratitude.
Gifts often make us a little uncomfortable. When we are given a gift, we tend to assume that we either do not deserve whatever we have received or that it was given out of a sense of obligation. As Christians, however, we are called look at gifts in a different way. Our faith affirms that God gives us the gift of his grace freely and without condition. We are not meant to discern the reason God’s grace has been made known to us. Rather, we are called to respond to this grace by gratefully acknowledging that our lives have been changed through what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.
One of the ways we exercise this gratitude is through the practice of Sabbath. Sabbath is an opportunity to remember that we are called to put our trust in the God who created and redeemed us. Sabbath is a way of pausing in the midst of our busy schedules so that we can move from a place of anxiety to a place of peace. Like a snow day, Sabbath is meant to be a gift, a chance to give thanks for the grace that God has so freely given us.