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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Sunday shopping!

One of the items in the recent UK Budget was the proposal, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to relax restrictions in Sunday Trading.  This was in spite of a pre-election commitment made "on behalf of the Prime Minister." when, in April, a representative of the Conservatives wrote to campaign group Keep Sunday Special saying: “I can assure you that we have no current plans to relax the Sunday trading laws."

I seem to recall that, when the regulations were relaxed, in 1994, it was on the basis that we should have a "continental Sunday"!  However, having spent a considerable, and increasing, amount of time in France over the past twenty years, and some time in a number of other countries in continental Europe, I see no indication of "Sunday Trading" being the norm!   Indeed, apart from some of the larger supermarkets, one would have great difficulty in finding any shop open on a Sunday in 'my' part of France - and even they usually only open in the morning.

It is interesting, is it not, that medical and physiological experts have 'discovered' that human beings need one day in seven in which to relax, in order to avoid physical and/or mental breakdown.  They probably spent hundreds of thousands of pounds, sterling, on the research that led them to that conclusion.  They only needed to read the written Word of the Creator: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labour, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to YHWH your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days YHWH made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore YHWH blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." (Ex 20:8-11).

Isn't it interesting that all of the other important time markers in human life are clearly based on astronomical and terrestrial constants. The day, for example, is the duration of one rotation of the earth on its axis; the year is the duration of one orbital revolution of the earth about the sun; the month is the approximate interval between new moons; the seasons are marked by the equinoxes and solstices.

But the week has no astronomical basis whatever! Yet we order our lives in a seven-day cycle, doing certain things on Monday, certain other things on Tuesday, and so on through the week. Furthermore, the common pattern is one of six normal working days, then a day of rest or change, then six normal days again, and so on, with the special day regarded as either the last of the seven preceding it, or the first of the seven following it.  This is strong evidence to support both the existence of the Creator - and His creation!

However, I must make one observation.  That concerns the number of people, certainly in the areas in which I have lived in the UK since 1994, who cannot wait for the worship service to end - so that they can get round to their local supermarket to purchase the items that they 'forgot' to buy on Saturday; or that they just couldn't be bothered going out to buy!  That number includes, I regret to have to say, many who would class themselves as true disciples of Jesus!

If those who seek to worship God are so readily caught up in the 'god' of consumerism, then we have little about which to complain if the world not only opens its shop doors on the Lord's Day, but even insists that we (if we are in the retail business) work on that day!

Perhaps if believers were to so organise their lives that they had no need for Sunday Trading, then there would not be sufficient business to make it worthwhile for shops to open!  Jesus said: "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matt 6:24; NIV).   Some need to heed the words of that great leader of the Children of Israel, Joshua: "... choose this day whom you will serve, ..." (Josh 24:15).   On the Day of Judgment, it will not be George Osborne, or David Cameron, to whom we will have to answer, but Almighty God Himself!  

Now that's maybe a thought worth pondering!

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