“Why is tonight different than all other nights?”
This is one of the 4 questions asked at the Jewish Passover Seder.
A similar question Jews and Christians ask is “How is the day, the Sabbath Day, whether it be Saturday or Sunday, different from any other day?”
Drawing on one of their creation accounts in their sacred book of Genesis, where God made the 7th day a holy day of rest, Jews and Christians have since set aside one day during the week as this same holy day of rest.
It is different from any other day not only because it is not supposed to be a day of work, but because it is supposed to be a holy day dedicated to sacred things, liking going to synagogue or church, and worshiping God.
Religious people, like the conservative Jew and former senator of Connecticut Joe Lieberman, have written about the practice of the Sabbath and its decline in our modern secular world. To secularists, no day is different than any other day in the sense that no day is sacred and all are potential work days.
The Coronavirus Pandemic we all are living through is taking this to new heights. Like in the movie “Groundhog Day” where the same day is lived over and over again by its central character, it is hard for us to distinguish one day from another; instead of each day being different, they now all seem the same. Sometimes now I find I even forget what day it is.
Now, for most of my life, Sunday has indeed been different than any other day. It has been my Sabbath when I went to church, either as a parishioner or as a pastor, and it was a holy day of rest secured in my childhood by Blue Laws which made it illegal for anything to be open on Sundays other than restaurants.
Of course, Blue laws have long been a thing of the past and everything is now open on Sunday, making it just like any other day except for those Christians who still go to church.
But during the Coronavirus, with the shut down of churches, this is no longer possible. So, now with much of the rest of the world, my Sunday can become no different than any other day leaving me to mourn the loss of my Sabbath Day.
At the Congregational Church of Burlington, we are still trying to help you “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” by providing you with “virtual church” during the pandemic. It’s a poor substitute for actually being in church, but at least we can have a worship service together.
While I miss being with you in person, I enjoy giving you a sermon and reading the liturgy as I hope you enjoy listening to it and to the music that is provided. Since I have trouble listening to or watching myself, I catch some other service online that helps me keep my Sabbath like the Sunday morning mass from St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Friends, in spite of the Coronavirus Pandemic, everyday does not have to be the same. For God still gives us the Sabbath Day and asks us to keep it holy, anyway we still can.