Sunday – Solemn Sabbath or News day?

Type in Sunday into a search engine and, apart from the wiki-entry telling you where the day comes in the week, you are presented with a long list of newsprint published on that day. It is a sign of the times that “Sabbath” is not the top of the list as it would once have been. So, how do you spend your Sunday; in praise, in bed with a mountain of print or heading for a leisurely brunch?

Sunday, traditionally the “day of the sun”, may be the first day of the week or last, depending on your culture. The sun god was historically worshipped by many civilisations, so this day was one to appease the god with praise and as such was eventually adopted by Christianity. Many faiths saw it as a day of rest, after six days of work, establishing this day as a “Sabbath”, or day of religious observance and abstinence from work. However, here in the UK, a Sunday may now be many things to many people.

As I sit amongst the sailing fraternity, this day is one of relaxation, or activity, with a favourite hobby; socialising and weather watching. Many people will take the opportunity to catch up on housework or shopping not managed during the week – it is said by some that the shopping centre is the new church! I lived for many years in Northern Ireland, where sadly religion has long been, and is still, a thorny subject. However,many still throng the churches every week and places of worship are thriving community hubs with healthy attendance. Sunday trading was held at bay for years after it was adopted elsewhere in the UK and the “Keep Sunday Special” campaign is still very active around the Province.

This campaign maintains that “Sunday is a special day, allowing families and communities to spend time together”. I doubt if any of us would argue against this premise. Yet in this hectic, economically focussed society, Big Business decrees that many must work long hours away from their family and community. Social pressures, fashion and the media influence lifestyle choices and trends for Sunday brunches, leisure pursuits and local tourism meaning this “day of rest” may leave us exhausted and unprepared for the start of a working week. Beautiful, historic places of worship abound throughout our countryside and towns, yet on the day they saw their flocks fill the pews for centuries, many see only a trickle of elderly parishioners, whilst others’ doors remain firmly closed.

So, when I stop to admire these time-weathered buildings, whose sturdy walls could tell a thousand, ancient tales, I ponder on how they could be made relevant to the lives of more people in today’s “selfie” society. For it seems that members of this society are increasingly looking for something more; not a religion or cult perhaps, but a sense of spirituality or awareness that something greater than us may exist. Or more simply, there comes a need for a place to sit, be mindful and just be; a place without the contaminating waves of wi-fi and demanding ping of notification. Perhaps, the time is right to think of Sunday as a special day again. Why not take a day off from the world and enjoy the sun’s day?

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