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IN THE CARPENTER’S WORKSHOP: Saturday

As regular as clockwork, Saturday comes around every single week.  Its name is derived from the planet Saturn and means many things to people.

The old English called it sunnanæfen, Sunday eve. It is a very special day for people in religious and secular circles.

For many, it is a day to get ready for Sunday.  All across America, people go to the car wash or get out the hose and wash that car as we weekend begins!  It’s almost as big a tradition as the little old ladies who go the beauty shop on Friday.

As the mechanized grass gobblers reminded me this past Saturday, that day is also a time to mow the grass.  That task for many has expanded to the use of weed eaters and edgers, the application of fertilizer and other chemicals and planting or trimming of shrubs.

Both of these activities seem to be required.  They are so important that they have overflowed to other days of the week so that the weekly cycle can be completed.  Some even mow their grass twice a week, and from different angles, to look ballpark-esque.

Saturday for the Scandinavians is called lordag, which means bath day.  Folks used to say they took a bath every Saturday whether they needed it or not.  I suspect that was to get ready for church on Sunday.

Maori tribes called it rahoroi,  literal meaning “wash day.”  Converts to Christianity used it to wash their white clothing for church on Sunday.

For years I have been lobbying for another day of the week.  We simply need one more to be able to get everything done.  Then I discovered that we used to have eight days!  Who made that change!

The Romans had eight days in a week.  That extra day was called a nundina, or market day.  That was the day the country people would come to town, and the city people would buy from them eight days of groceries.  Seems a little like Saturday in modern times!  They finally dropped that eighth day, and named the rest after planets or gods.  Oh well!

Saturday for the Jews is Shabbat.  It stretches from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, and is a day of rest for them.

Jesus was placed in the tomb on Saturday but was raised from the dead on Sunday.  The day after Saturday changed history, the calendar and people’s eternities for all time.

However we may see Saturday, it always has been a day of preparation.  From washing cars and chariots to mowing the grass or fields of the king, it was a day to get ready.  Haircuts, baths, shopping, prayers, whatever we may use to get ready, it is a day to prepare for Sunday worship.

Sadly, Saturday has become a day for many to pack everything which can be accomplished  that there is no energy left for worship on Sunday.  Late nights on Saturday, combined with sports and other activities, make it hard to get there the next day.  Now, sports and other things are spilling over onto Sunday afternoon, and even Sunday mornings at times.  It might be time to take a stand, or change the rules to free Sunday for worship and rest once again!

So, metaphorically and spiritually, how can all of these things help us in our quest for God?  It takes a different way of thinking.  It takes looking deeper, finding the Divine,  as we do the ordinary and routine.

For instance, mowing is intersecting with the process of creation.  God grows the grass every week, as he does us.  He prunes us, so we will grow and bear fruit.  It also reminds us to cut out all those things which don’t matter.  For the grass, it is anything over an inch or so high.  For us, it is all of the peripheral things which take away from worship or service to God.  It is a part of the process of preparation for Sunday.

Washing the car makes it look better.  It takes water, which God provides.  It is similar to the washing away of our sin, and prepares us to drive with all impurities removed.  It can be a spiritual exercise as well, when we realize why we are doing it.  To prepare for Sunday.

Taking a bath, cutting or styling hair, washing clothes they are all part of the divine plan to get ready for the Sabbath day.  Partying, drinking, staying out late, not so much.

The amount of water used in washing cars, clothing, and people on Saturday is much higher than any other day of the week.  The days of washing clothing on the rocks in the river have gone by for most of us, but it is still done in some places.

Almost all the activities described above involve water on Saturday.  And if we see clearly, they are all to help us get ready to experience the water of eternal life on Sunday.  Do you see it yet?