"Eighth Day" Trends
written by Rev Gary Heard

The church has decided to change its name: to "The Community of the Eighth Day". The symbolism and imagery is rich, impregnated with important insight, and
an indication of our future direction. This reflection expresses an aspect of that imagery. Watch for the church's emerging web presence.

My schooling years were predicated on the assumption of a single career lasting about 40 years or so, most likely with one employer, followed by retirement. The nine-to-five work paradigm still predominated, with Saturdays spent on sport or the garden, and Sunday as a day of rest, with church in the morning at least the average fare.

Today we confront a growing number of people in their late twenties and early thirties who have consciously stepped back from full-time work (of between 40 and 50 hours each week) into part-time. They are giving extra time to family pursuits or recreational interests. Their response to a work culture which engulfed every ounce of their creative energy - and often most of their waking hours - is to step back out of the system and assume some control over their own lives. They are often putting in as many hours, but in a variety of interests and pursuits, under their own control.

The trend is evident, although we ought not assume it to be the majority, any more than we might assume that people making this choice are actively pursuing anything qualitatively different than their work situations provided. In the same way that we recognise the practice of Sunday as “a day of rest” did not necessarily mean people were involved in spiritual pursuits, neither can we make that same assumption about these lifestyle choices. It is, however, an expression of dissatisfaction with the status quo, and a step towards gaining some control and perspective on life.

As we reflect upon “Eighth Day” experiences, we recognise that these are intentional pursuits: conscious choices to explore matters of faith and spirituality, rather than simply a ‘time out’ exercise. To be committed to “Eighth Day” experiences is to be prepared to grasp and wrestle with the questions of meaning and purpose, to consciously consider the place of God in the human struggle, and to proactively employ our time and energies in such reflection. It is one thing to step out of the mainstream. It is entirely another to not allow ourselves to be swallowed up in another simply by passivity.

To live an “Eighth Day” life is to intentionally expend time and energy in understanding and implementing our spirituality. Just as Jacob wrestled with an angel in search of a blessing, this can be a taxing exercise in discipline. Yet its rewards are sweeter than honey.

September 21, 2003
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