I keep thinking about those who will grieve the devastation that unveils as their sense of shock recedes with historic floodwaters this week. I’m not so taken with the colossal damage to the infrastructure of a major city, although that too is of significant concern, but with the everyday people who will have to face the irredeemable remains of their once meaningful work. A flower garden planted with delightful botanic wisdom and fanciful aesthetic hope, now undone by an unthinking, unfeeling force of nature. A backyard fort ingeniously, painstakingly assembled over the summer now disheveled, its pieces carried and strewn about the neighborhood by a meteorological bully. A decent home that once represented years in equity earned in an otherwise entirely unsatisfying job now robbed of its value, utterly uninsured.
I keep wondering what that old Biblical character Lamech was thinking when he named his son Noah, (which means “rest”), saying, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” What Noah thought about his name when he looked out over a world entirely unmade, knowing that he was another kind of Adam and this carnage was his inheritance over which to exercise dominion by the very sweat of his brow. If that’s what drove him to despairing drunkenness so soon after God renewed his covenant with him. If he could have known that God’s promise to him meant that even the promise of his name would be God’s work to do and not his own?
This weekend, millions of Americans will celebrate the patriotic endeavor of labor by getting as far away from their workplaces as humanly possible. As they do, few will stop and reflect upon the fraught yet indissoluble relationship between the work they do and the rest they long for and what that tension means for humans in light of our creatureliness. Honestly, I’m not sure if I would either if it weren’t part of my job! Thanks be to God that I have been given this thoughtful work to do and for the opportunity to share the fruit of those labors with you this weekend. We are taking a break from Colossians, but will continue in the theme of our series (The New Humanism). I want us to hear God speak through Paul to the Ephesians for us Sunday on how the unending cyclone that is our miserable attempt at a work-rest balance points us to the New Creation reality we’ve inherited in Christ, the Supreme King over all creation.